Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 103, Supplement 3, pp S61–S66 | Cite as

Creating Neighbourhood Groupings Based on Built Environment Features to Facilitate Health Promotion Activities

  • Donald Schopflocher
  • Eric VanSpronsen
  • John C. Spence
  • Helen Vallianatos
  • Kim D. Raine
  • Ronald C. Plotnikoff
  • Candace I. J. Nykiforuk
Quantitative Research



Detailed assessments of the built environment often resist data reduction and summarization. This project sought to develop a method of reducing built environment data to an extent that they can be effectively communicated to researchers and community stakeholders. We aim to help in an understanding of how these data can be used to create neighbourhood groupings based on built environment characteristics and how the process of discussing these neighbourhoods with community stakeholders can result in the development of community-informed health promotion interventions.


We used the Irvine Minnesota Inventory (IMI) to assess 296 segments of a semi-rural community in Alberta. Expert raters "created" neighbourhoods by examining the data. Then, a consensus grouping was developed using cluster analysis, and the number of IMI variables to characterize the neighbourhoods was reduced by multiple discriminant function analysis.


The 296 segments were reduced to a consensus set of 10 neighbourhoods, which could be separated from each other by 9 functions constructed from 24 IMI variables. Biplots of these functions were an effective means of summarizing and presenting the results of the community assessment, and stimulated community action.


It is possible to use principled quantitative methods to reduce large amounts of information about the built environment into meaningful summaries. These summaries, or built environment neighbourhoods, were useful in catalyzing action with community stakeholders and led to the development of health-promoting built environment interventions.

Key words

Built environment quantitative methods health promotion knowledge exchange obesity reduction 

Mots clés

milieu bâti méthodes quantitatives promotion de la santé échange des connaissances réduction de l’obésité 



Les évaluations approfondies du milieu bâti résistent souvent aux tentatives de réduction et de synthèse des données. Nous avons cherché à élaborer une méthode de réduction des données sur le milieu bâti qui permette de communiquer efficacement ces données aux chercheurs et aux acteurs locaux. Notre objectif est de faire comprendre comment on peut utiliser ces données pour créer des regroupements de quartiers fondés sur les caractéristiques du milieu bâti, et que le processus de discussion des quartiers avec les acteurs locaux peut entraîner la mise au point d’interventions de promotion de la santé renforcées par un apport communautaire.


À l’aide de la liste de critères Irvine-Minnesota Inventory (IMI), nous avons évalué 296 segments d’une communauté semi-rurale de l’Alberta. Des évaluateurs experts ont «créé» des quartiers en examinant les données. Ensuite, nous avons élaboré un regroupement consensuel au moyen d’une analyse en grappes, et réduit le nombre de variables IMI caractérisant les quartiers au moyen d’une analyse discriminante multiple.


Les 296 segments ont été réduits par consensus à un ensemble de 10 quartiers, lesquels se distinguent les uns des autres selon 9 fonctions construites à partir de 24 variables IMI. Des biplots de ces fonctions ont été un moyen efficace de résumer et de présenter les résultats de l’évaluation communautaire, et ont stimulé l’action communautaire.


Il est possible d’utiliser des méthodes quantitatives raisonnées pour réduire de grandes quantités d’information sur le milieu bâti en résumés signifiants. Ces résumés, ou «quartiers selon le milieu bâti», ont été utiles pour catalyser des actions avec les acteurs locaux et ont mené à l’élaboration d’interventions sur le milieu bâti favorisant la santé.


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Donald Schopflocher
    • 1
  • Eric VanSpronsen
    • 1
  • John C. Spence
    • 2
  • Helen Vallianatos
    • 3
  • Kim D. Raine
    • 1
  • Ronald C. Plotnikoff
    • 4
  • Candace I. J. Nykiforuk
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Health Promotion Studies, School of Public HealthUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Physical Education and RecreationUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Anthropology, Faculty of ArtsUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.School of EducationUniversity of NewcastleAustralia

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