Subjective neighborhood assessment and physical inactivity: An examination of neighborhood-level variance

John D. Prochaska, Robert N. Buschmann, Daniel Jupiter, Miriam Mutambudzi, M. Kristen Peek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research suggests a linkage between perceptions of neighborhood quality and the likelihood of engaging in leisure-time physical activity. Often in these studies, intra-neighborhood variance is viewed as something to be controlled for statistically. However, we hypothesized that intra-neighborhood variance in perceptions of neighborhood quality may be contextually relevant. We examined the relationship between intra-neighborhood variance of subjective neighborhood quality and neighborhood-level reported physical inactivity across 48 neighborhoods within a medium-sized city, Texas City, Texas using survey data from 2706 residents collected between 2004 and 2006. Neighborhoods where the aggregated perception of neighborhood quality was poor also had a larger proportion of residents reporting being physically inactive. However, higher degrees of disagreement among residents within neighborhoods about their neighborhood quality was significantly associated with a lower proportion of residents reporting being physically inactive (p = 0.001). Our results suggest that intra-neighborhood variability may be contextually relevant in studies seeking to better understand the relationship between neighborhood quality and behaviors sensitive to neighborhood environments, like physical activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)336-341
Number of pages6
JournalPreventive Medicine
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • Environment
  • Exercise
  • Healthy neighborhoods
  • Median absolute deviation
  • Neighborhood
  • Physical activity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Subjective neighborhood assessment
  • Urban health
  • Variability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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