Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 90, Issue 2, pp 246–261 | Cite as

Assessing the Psychometric and Ecometric Properties of Neighborhood Scales in Developing Countries: Saúde em Beagá Study, Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 2008–2009

  • Amélia Augusta de Lima Friche
  • Ana V. Diez-Roux
  • Cibele Comini César
  • César Coelho Xavier
  • Fernando Augusto Proietti
  • Waleska Teixeira Caiaffa


Although specific measurement instruments are necessary to better understand the relationship between features of neighborhoods and health, very few studies have developed instruments to measure neighborhood features in developing countries. The objective of the study was to develop valid and reliable measures of neighborhood context useful in a Latin American urban context, assess their psychometric and ecometric properties, and examine individual and neighborhood-level predictors of these measures. We analyzed data from a multistage household survey (2008–2009) conducted in Belo Horizonte City by the Observatory for Urban Health. One adult in each household was selected to answer a questionnaire that included scales to measure neighborhood domains. Census tracts were used to proxy neighborhoods. Internal consistency was evaluated by Cronbach’s alpha, and multilevel models were used to estimate ecometric properties and to estimate associations of neighborhood measures with socioeconomic indicators. The final sample comprised 4048 survey respondents representing 149 census tracts. We assessed ten neighborhood environment dimensions: public services, aesthetic quality, walking environment, safety, violence, social cohesion, neighborhood participation, neighborhood physical disorder, neighborhood social disorder, and neighborhood problems. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients ranged from 0.53 to 0.83; intraneighborhood correlations ranged from 0.02 to 0.53, and neighborhood reliability varied from 0.76 to 0.99. Most scales were associated with individual and neighborhood socioeconomic predictors. Questionnaires can be used to reliably measure neighborhood contexts in developing countries.


Epidemiologic methods Psychometrics Residence characteristics Data collection Self-report Environment design Censuses 


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Amélia Augusta de Lima Friche
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ana V. Diez-Roux
    • 3
  • Cibele Comini César
    • 1
    • 2
  • César Coelho Xavier
    • 4
    • 2
  • Fernando Augusto Proietti
    • 1
    • 2
  • Waleska Teixeira Caiaffa
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Graduate Program of Public Health, School of MedicinaFederal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  2. 2.Observatory for Urban Health of Belo HorizonteFederal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil
  3. 3.Center for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, School of Public HeathUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Graduate Program of Pediatrics, School of MedicinaFederal University of Minas GeraisBelo HorizonteBrazil

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