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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Feb;46(2):293-301. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000017.

Urban form and psychosocial factors: do they interact for leisure-time walking?

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Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, THE NETHERLANDS.



This cross-sectional study uses an adaptation of a social-ecological model on the hierarchy of walking needs to explore direct associations and interactions of urban-form characteristics and individual psychosocial factors for leisure-time walking.


Questionnaire data (n = 736) from adults (25-74 yr) and systematic field observations within 14 neighborhoods in Eindhoven (the Netherlands) were used. Multilevel logistic regression models were used to relate the urban-form characteristics (accessibility, safety, comfort, and pleasurability) and individual psychosocial factors (attitude, self-efficacy, social influence, and intention) to two definitions of leisure-time walking, that is, any leisure-time walking and sufficient leisure-time walking according to the Dutch physical activity norm and to explore their interactions.


Leisure-time walking was associated with psychosocial factors but not with characteristics of the urban environment. For sufficient leisure-time walking, interactions between attitude and several urban-form characteristics were found, indicating that positive urban-form characteristics contributed toward leisure-time walking only in residents with a less positive attitude toward physical activity. In contrast, living in a neighborhood that was accessible for walking was stronger associated with leisure-time walking among residents who experienced a positive social influence to engage in physical activity compared with those who reported less social influence.


This study showed some evidence for an interaction between the neighborhood environment and the individual psychosocial factors in explaining leisure-time walking. The specific mechanism of interaction may depend on the specific combination of psychosocial factor and environmental factor. The lack of association between urban form and leisure-time walking could be partly due to the little variation in urban-form characteristics between neighborhoods.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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