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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Validity of surveys to assess safe routes to school programs

item Mendoza, Jason
item Watson, Kathy
item Baranowski, Tom
item Nicklas, Theresa

Submitted to: Pediatric Academic Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2009
Publication Date: 5/1/2009
Citation: Mendoza, J.A., Watson, K., Baranowski, T., Nicklas, T. 2009. Validity of surveys to assess safe routes to school programs [abstract]. In: Proceedings of the Pediatric Academic Societies. Annual Meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies, May 2-5, 2009, Baltimore, Maryland. 2009 CDROM.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Safe Routes to School programs are designed to make walking and bicycling to school safe and accessible for children. These programs promote children's physical activity and show promise for obesity prevention. However, there are few validated surveys to measure important outcomes such as student transportation and pedestrian safety behaviors. To validate a school transport survey and pedestrian safety behaviors survey among urban, low-income, ethnic minority public elementary school students. For the school transport survey, we recruited 4th grade students to complete a one-question written survey on how they got to school that day with set responses (school bus, carpool/car, walked with an adult, walked without an adult, and bicycle). Test-retest reliability was repeated 3-4 hours apart. Validity was determined by comparison to parents' report. For the pedestrian safety behaviors survey, 10 research assistants observed 29 students at a school intersection for completion of pedestrian safety behaviors (e.g., crossed at a corner or crosswalk, stopped at the curb, looked left-right-left, and walked across). Validity was determined by comparing research assistants' ratings to the principal investigator (PI); reliability was assessed with intraclass correlations across research assistant ratings. The school transport survey had high test-retest reliability (K=0.97, n=96, p<0.001) and validity (K=0.87, n=81, p<0.001). The pedestrian safety behaviors survey had fair validity correlations determined by the Spearman rank test (r=0.44, p=<0.01) and reliability determined by the intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC=0.48). If two raters simultaneously used the instrument, the ICC increased to 0.65. Overall sensitivity (85%) and specificity (83%) comparing the raters to the PI were acceptable. The school transport survey had high validity and reliability in field testing. The pedestrian safety behaviors observational instrument had fair validity and reliability. These instruments provide an efficient means to assess important outcomes for Safe Routes to School programs.

Last Modified: 10/17/2017
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