Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy

Development of the Rural Activing Living Assessment Tools: Measuring Rural Environments


Objective: Develop rural-specific assessment tools to be used by researchers and practitioners to measure the activity-friendliness of rural communities.

Method: The tools were created through a mixed-methods investigation into the determinants of physical activity among rural populations. This informed the development of a conceptual framework defining activity-friendly rural environments. Questions were generated to reflect applicable existing urban-based variables and rural conceptual model elements. Pilot testing was conducted in seven rural US communities during the fall of 2008. Inter-rater reliability was assessed.

Results: The Rural Active Living Assessment (RALA) Tools include three components: Town-Wide (18 town characteristic questions, and inventory of 15 recreational amenities), Program and Policy (20 questions), and Street Segment (28 questions). We found that the Town-wide and Program and Policy tools were feasible for community members to implement. The observed agreement and k statistic across all items for the Street Segment Assessment were substantial (91.9% and 0.78, respectively).

Conclusions: The RALA Tools were shown to be feasible and reliability was supported. They assess features believed to be supportive of active living in rural environments, offer users a resource to assess rural environments for activity-friendliness, and may also inform the design of interventions to help rural communities become more active and healthy. [Journal Abstract]

Publication Type: 
Journal Article
Publish Date: 
January 31, 2010