Back in September
a PSC Research Project
Investigators: Daniel Brown, Ana Diez Roux, Yong Yang, Rick L. Riolo
There has been an explosion of interest in how features of the social and built environments of communities affect the physical activity of residents. Because of the relevance of walking as a component of physical activity, and the possibility of increasing population-levels of physical activity by increasing walking in daily life, the study of the environmental determinants of walking has received special attention. Studies have documented associations of walking with environmental features such as land use mix and proximity of destinations, street connectivity and presence of sidewalks, aesthetic and design features of the environment, and safety and violence levels. However, important questions remain regarding the policy implications of this work. A major challenge is the need to account for the multiple dynamic relations between individuals (e.g. the behavior of one individual affecting those of others around him or her), between individuals and their environments (e.g. the environment changing in response to the behaviors of individuals and vice versa), and between environments (e.g. street connectivity affecting levels of safety). Accounting for these dynamic relationships is fundamental to understanding the impact of policies. Systems science methodologies (including agent-based models or ABMs) have received increasing attention as a way to better capture the complex set of dynamic relationships inherent in population health problems, but few applications to specific research problems exist. The overall goal of this proposal is to develop an exploratory agent-based model (ABM) to simulate people?s walking behavior within a hypothetical city. The development of this model will provide a concrete practical illustration of the application of complex systems methodologies in population health; will allow exploration of the interactions between physical and social environments in shaping the levels and distribution of walking behavior as well as the possible impacts of various policies on walking; and will identify the kinds of data that need to be collected make the model more ?realistic?. The Specific Aims are: (1) To build an agent-based model to simulate people?s walking behavior within a hypothetical city; (2) To use the model to explore how the characteristics of the built and social environment jointly shape population levels of walking behavior and contribute to differences in walking levels by social groups (e.g. based on socioeconomic position); (3) To use the model to explore the possible impact of different types of policy interventions on population-levels of walking under different hypothetical scenarios; and (4) To explore the feasibility of making the model reflect a real city. A city in US will be selected as a case study and necessary data sources will be compiled. This proposal will employ novel systems methodologies to a policy resistant population health problem and will generate one of the first exemplars of applications of this approach in population health. The development of these models represents a paradigm change in the way evidence is used to select and support interventions and policies to prevent major chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.
|Funding:||National Heart, Lung, And Blood Institute (1R21HL106467)|
Funding Period: 08/18/2011 to 07/31/2013