Mismatch between perceived and objective measures of physical activity environments

Kylie Ball, Robert W. Jeffery, David A. Crawford, Rebecca J. Roberts, Jo Salmon, Anna F. Timperio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

194 Scopus citations


Objectives: This study investigated the correspondence between measures of physical activity facilities obtained through self-report and objective audits; and identified the socio-demographic, cognitive and behavioral characteristics of those who perceive their physical activity environment to be less supportive than objective measures indicate. Methods: Self-report surveys were completed by 1540 women recruited from 45 neighborhoods in Melbourne, Australia. Women reported perceived access to physical activity facilities within 2 km from home, and also socio-demographic, cognitive and behavioral factors. Objective data on physical activity facilities within a 2 km pedestrian catchment area around women's homes were sourced. Results: There was relatively poor agreement between measures of access to physical activity facilities obtained via self-report and objective assessment. Mismatch between perceived and objectively-assessed environments was more common amongst younger and older women, and women of low income, with low self-efficacy for physical activity, who were less active, who reported using fewer facilities and who had lived in the neighborhood for less than 2 years. Conclusions: Future studies of environmental determinants of physical activity should consider incorporating objective indices of access to facilities, or accounting for the systematic bias that may result from relying on self-report perceptions as an indicator of the actual physical activity environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)294-298
Number of pages5
JournalPreventive medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2008

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Kylie Ball is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council Senior Research Fellowship, ID 479513. David Crawford and Anna Timperio are supported by Victorian Health Promotion Foundation Research Fellowships. Jo Salmon is supported by a National Heart Foundation of Australia and sanofi-aventis Career Development Award. Funding for this study was provided by the National Heart Foundation of Australia.


  • Built environment
  • Objective audits
  • Perceptions
  • Physical activity
  • Recreational facilities
  • Women


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