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Rural Food and Physical Activity Assessment Using an Electronic Tablet-Based Application, New York, 2013-2014.

Seguin RA, Morgan EH, Connor LM, Garner JA, King AC, Sheats JL, Winter SJ, Buman MP - Prev Chronic Dis (2015)

Bottom Line: Rural populations experience significant health disparities, yet built environment studies in these settings are limited.In general, participants found the assessment tool to be simple and enjoyable to use.This resident-led assessment approach may also be helpful for informing and evaluating rural community-based interventions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, 412 Savage Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853. Telephone: 607-255-8250. Email: rs946@cornell.edu.

ABSTRACT

Introduction: A community's built environment can influence health behaviors. Rural populations experience significant health disparities, yet built environment studies in these settings are limited. We used an electronic tablet-based community assessment tool to conduct built environment audits in rural settings. The primary objective of this qualitative study was to evaluate the usefulness of the tool in identifying barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and active living. The second objective was to understand resident perspectives on community features and opportunities for improvement.

Methods: Participants were recruited from 4 rural communities in New York State. Using the tool, participants completed 2 audits, which consisted of taking pictures and recording audio narratives about community features perceived as assets or barriers to healthy eating and active living. Follow-up focus groups explored the audit experience, data captured, and opportunities for change.

Results: Twenty-four adults (mean age, 69.4 y (standard deviation, 13.2 y), 6 per community, participated in the study. The most frequently captured features related to active living were related to roads, sidewalks, and walkable destinations. Restaurants, nontraditional food stores, and supermarkets were identified in the food environment in relation to the cost, quality, and selection of healthy foods available. In general, participants found the assessment tool to be simple and enjoyable to use.

Conclusion: An electronic tablet-based tool can be used to assess rural food and physical activity environments and may be useful in identifying and prioritizing resident-led change initiatives. This resident-led assessment approach may also be helpful for informing and evaluating rural community-based interventions.

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Six common features of the food environment identified and photographed by participants. Photos were used to contextualize audio narratives but were not independently coded.
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Figure 3: Six common features of the food environment identified and photographed by participants. Photos were used to contextualize audio narratives but were not independently coded.

Mentions: Participants captured 6 common features of the food environment (Table 3) (Figure 3). The most frequently documented features were restaurants, nontraditional food stores (eg, convenience stores, pharmacies), and supermarkets, usually with reference to the cost, quality, and selection of healthy foods available. Large food purchases were sometimes made at supermarkets outside of town to access a wider range of foods at potentially lower prices, with nontraditional food stores in town used for staples such as milk, eggs, and bread and “quick, convenient snacky type things.” However, some participants felt that food shopping outside of town was unnecessary or uneconomical when the cost of gas was considered and noted that smaller nontraditional food stores in town often priced their staple items competitively and offered regular specials. A subset of participants (34.6%) discussed farmers markets, farm stands, and gardens as sources of fresh produce in season. Thus, a combination of nontraditional food stores and locally grown foods were perceived to be important features, both positive and negative, of the food environment in these rural towns.


Rural Food and Physical Activity Assessment Using an Electronic Tablet-Based Application, New York, 2013-2014.

Seguin RA, Morgan EH, Connor LM, Garner JA, King AC, Sheats JL, Winter SJ, Buman MP - Prev Chronic Dis (2015)

Six common features of the food environment identified and photographed by participants. Photos were used to contextualize audio narratives but were not independently coded.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4492214&req=5

Figure 3: Six common features of the food environment identified and photographed by participants. Photos were used to contextualize audio narratives but were not independently coded.
Mentions: Participants captured 6 common features of the food environment (Table 3) (Figure 3). The most frequently documented features were restaurants, nontraditional food stores (eg, convenience stores, pharmacies), and supermarkets, usually with reference to the cost, quality, and selection of healthy foods available. Large food purchases were sometimes made at supermarkets outside of town to access a wider range of foods at potentially lower prices, with nontraditional food stores in town used for staples such as milk, eggs, and bread and “quick, convenient snacky type things.” However, some participants felt that food shopping outside of town was unnecessary or uneconomical when the cost of gas was considered and noted that smaller nontraditional food stores in town often priced their staple items competitively and offered regular specials. A subset of participants (34.6%) discussed farmers markets, farm stands, and gardens as sources of fresh produce in season. Thus, a combination of nontraditional food stores and locally grown foods were perceived to be important features, both positive and negative, of the food environment in these rural towns.

Bottom Line: Rural populations experience significant health disparities, yet built environment studies in these settings are limited.In general, participants found the assessment tool to be simple and enjoyable to use.This resident-led assessment approach may also be helpful for informing and evaluating rural community-based interventions.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, 412 Savage Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853. Telephone: 607-255-8250. Email: rs946@cornell.edu.

ABSTRACT

Introduction: A community's built environment can influence health behaviors. Rural populations experience significant health disparities, yet built environment studies in these settings are limited. We used an electronic tablet-based community assessment tool to conduct built environment audits in rural settings. The primary objective of this qualitative study was to evaluate the usefulness of the tool in identifying barriers and facilitators to healthy eating and active living. The second objective was to understand resident perspectives on community features and opportunities for improvement.

Methods: Participants were recruited from 4 rural communities in New York State. Using the tool, participants completed 2 audits, which consisted of taking pictures and recording audio narratives about community features perceived as assets or barriers to healthy eating and active living. Follow-up focus groups explored the audit experience, data captured, and opportunities for change.

Results: Twenty-four adults (mean age, 69.4 y (standard deviation, 13.2 y), 6 per community, participated in the study. The most frequently captured features related to active living were related to roads, sidewalks, and walkable destinations. Restaurants, nontraditional food stores, and supermarkets were identified in the food environment in relation to the cost, quality, and selection of healthy foods available. In general, participants found the assessment tool to be simple and enjoyable to use.

Conclusion: An electronic tablet-based tool can be used to assess rural food and physical activity environments and may be useful in identifying and prioritizing resident-led change initiatives. This resident-led assessment approach may also be helpful for informing and evaluating rural community-based interventions.

Show MeSH