Objective: Develop rural-specific assessment tools to be used by researchers and practitioners to measure the activity-friendliness of rural communities. <br></br>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. <br></br>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). <br></br>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]
Cutler Institute for Health and Social Policy
Development of the Rural Activing Living Assessment Tools: Measuring Rural Environments
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Hartley Retires as Director of the Maine Rural Health Research Center
David Hartley, PhD, the Director of the Maine Rural Health Research Center (MRHRC) and a Research Professor of Public Health has announced that he will be retiring from the University of Southern Maine August 31st, 2014. David came to the University in 1994 and has directed the MRHRC since 2004. Andy Coburn, PhD, Research Professor of Public Health, will take over as the new MRHRC Director. Erika Ziller, PhD continues in her role as Deputy Director. David has had a distinguished career in rural health and rural health research, and has made lasting contributions to the field with his work on rural behavioral health, rural disparities and health, and rural active living.
A celebration will be scheduled in early fall to honor David and his many contributions to the field and the University.