Developing a built environment measure for use in urban adolescent health research  (2014)

Researcher(s):

Project Sponsor(s)

  • Office of the Vice President for Research
  • The University of Texas at Austin

Project Categories

The built environment encompasses human-modified elements of the lived environment, including homes, buildings, roads, parks, and the conditions of the physical structures in and around these places. Though specific features of urban neighborhoods, such as the location of abandoned properties and youth development resources, have been shown to impact individual mental and physical health outcomes, few health researchers have attempted to build composite variable to consistently measure these neighborhood properties.

The study aims to develop a composite measure using geographical data within a structural equation model framework that captures the concentration of resources in urban areas and the potential for community members to encounter these resources. The study will assess interrelationships within PolicyMap Housing and Real Estate data as compared to a previous examination of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health Obesity and Neighborhood Environment database. A previous study of this investigator used exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses to develop a Resource Availability factor of youth organizations, outdoor and indoor resources show to associate with youth mental health outcomes.

The study uses similar methodology (i.e. exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses); however, these methods will now be applied to a more extensive database of government funded and private non-profit locations within a nationally representative set of urban neighborhoods. In addition to examining internal reliability and comparing previous Resource Availability constructs, the criterion-related validity of the developed measure(s) will be assessed.

The findings will be used as an independent variable in future neighborhood effects research of adolescent delinquency and internalizing behaviors.