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      Citizen science applied to building healthier community environments: advancing the field through shared construct and measurement development

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          Physical inactivity across the lifespan remains a public health issue for many developed countries. Inactivity has contributed considerably to the pervasiveness of lifestyle diseases. Government, national and local agencies and organizations have been unable to systematically, and in a coordinated way, translate behavioral research into practice that makes a difference at a population level. One approach for mobilizing multi-level efforts to improve the environment for physical activity is to engage in a process of citizen science. Citizen Science here is defined as a participatory research approach involving members of the public working closely with research investigators to initiate and advance scientific research projects. However, there are no common measures or protocols to guide citizen science research at the local community setting.


          We describe overarching categories of constructs that can be considered when designing citizen science projects expected to yield multi-level interventions, and provide an example of the citizen science approach to promoting PA. We also recommend potential measures across different levels of impact.


          Encouraging some consistency in measurement across studies will potentially accelerate the efficiency with which citizen science participatory research provides new insights into and solutions to the behaviorally-based public health issues that drive most of morbidity and mortality. The measures described in this paper abide by four fundamental principles specifically selected for inclusion in citizen science projects: feasibility, accuracy, propriety, and utility. The choice of measures will take into account the potential resources available for outcome and process evaluation. Our intent is to emphasize the importance for all citizen science participatory projects to follow an evidence-based approach and ensure that they incorporate an appropriate assessment protocol.


          We provided the rationale for and a list of contextual factors along with specific examples of measures to encourage consistency among studies that plan to use a citizen science participatory approach. The potential of this approach to promote health and wellbeing in communities is high and we hope that we have provided the tools needed to optimally promote synergistic gains in knowledge across a range of Citizen Science participatory projects.

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          Most cited references 60

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          The effect of season and weather on physical activity: a systematic review.

          This study reviewed previous studies to explore the effect of season, and consequently weather, on levels of physical activity. Thirty-seven primary studies (published 1980-2006) representing a total of 291883 participants (140482 male and 152085 female) from eight different countries are described, and the effect of season on moderate levels of physical activity is considered. Upon review of the evidence, it appears that levels of physical activity vary with seasonality, and the ensuing effect of poor or extreme weather has been identified as a barrier to participation in physical activity among various populations. Therefore, previous studies that did not recognize the effect of weather and season on physical activity may, in fact, be poor representations of this behaviour. Future physical activity interventions should consider how weather promotes or hinders such behaviour. Providing indoor opportunities during the cold and wet months may foster regular physical activity behaviours year round.
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            Citizen science. Next steps for citizen science.

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              Socioeconomic status differences in recreational physical activity levels and real and perceived access to a supportive physical environment.

              Spatial access to recreational facilities and perceptions of the neighborhood environment and physical activity levels were examined by the socioeconomic status of area of residence (SES). A cross-sectional survey of adults (18-59 years) (n = 1,803) stratified by SES using a geographic-based index was conducted. Respondents in low SES areas had superior spatial access to many recreational facilities, but were less likely to use them compared with those living in high SES areas. They were more likely to perceive that they had access to sidewalks and shops, but also perceived that their neighborhood was busier with traffic, less attractive, and less supportive of walking. After adjustment, respondents living in low SES areas were 36% less likely to undertake vigorous activity. While they were more likely to walk for transport, this was not statistically significant (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 0.98-1.64), nor were other SES differences in walking for recreation and walking as recommended. Modifiable environmental factors were associated with walking and vigorous activity, especially perceived access to sidewalks and neighborhood attractiveness. Spatial access to attractive, public open space was associated with walking. Creating supportive environments--particularly sidewalks in attractive neighborhoods--has the potential to increase walking and vigorous activity.

                Author and article information

                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
                BioMed Central (London )
                29 September 2017
                29 September 2017
                : 14
                [1 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0705 7067, GRID grid.252547.3, Auckland University of Technology, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, National Institute of Public and Mental Health, Centre for Child Health Research Centre for Active Ageing, ; Private Bag, 92006 Auckland, New Zealand
                [2 ]ISNI 0000 0001 0668 7243, GRID grid.266093.8, Department of Planning, Policy and Design, School of Social Ecology, , University of California, Irvine, ; Irvine, CA USA
                [3 ]ISNI 0000000419368956, GRID grid.168010.e, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine, , Stanford University School of Medicine, ; Stanford, CA USA
                [4 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1937 0650, GRID grid.7400.3, University of Zurich, Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, ; Zurich, Switzerland
                [5 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2162 1699, GRID grid.7340.0, University of Bath, ; Bath, UK
                [6 ]ISNI 0000 0004 1936 9609, GRID grid.21613.37, University of Manitoba, Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management, Centre on Aging, ; Winnipeg, Canada
                [7 ]ISNI 0000 0000 9320 7537, GRID grid.1003.2, The University of Queensland, Faculty of Medicine, ; Brisbane, Australia
                [8 ]ISNI 0000 0001 2284 6531, GRID grid.411239.c, Federal University of Santa Maria, ; Santa Maria, Brazil
                [9 ]Friedrich-Alexander University Erlangen, Institute of Sport Science and Sport (ISS), Nuremberg, Germany
                [10 ]ISNI 0000000419368956, GRID grid.168010.e, Division Of Epidemiology, Department Of Health Research & Policy, , Stanford University School Of Medicine, ; Stanford, CA USA
                © The Author(s). 2017

                Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100000867, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation;
                Award ID: 73344
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: FundRef http://dx.doi.org/10.13039/100007197, U.S. Public Health Service;
                Award ID: 1U54EB020405
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                © The Author(s) 2017


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