Annals of Behavioral Medicine

, Volume 44, Issue 3, pp 365–374 | Cite as

Interactive Effects of Built Environment and Psychosocial Attributes on Physical Activity: A Test of Ecological Models

  • Ding Ding
  • James F. Sallis
  • Terry L. Conway
  • Brian E. Saelens
  • Lawrence D. Frank
  • Kelli L. Cain
  • Donald J. Slymen
Original Article



The principle of cross-level interactions of influence on behavior in ecological models is seldom studied.


To examine built environment × psychosocial interactive effects on physical activity.


Multi-level mixed regression analyses used data from the Neighborhood Quality of Life Study conducted in neighborhoods in two US regions (n = 2,199 adults). Outcomes were (1) objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, (2) reported transport walking, and (3) leisure-walking. Conceptually matched built environment variables were analyzed for domain-specific outcomes.


With leisure walking as the outcome, built environment × psychosocial interactions were significant in 7 of 20 models tested. Directions of interactions were consistent, indicating a stronger built environment–leisure walking association in adults with less favorable psychosocial status. Little evidence supported such interactions with objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity or transport walking as outcomes.


The results imply that the built environment may exert stronger influence on adults who are not psychologically predisposed to be active.


Interaction Moderator Psychosocial Physical activity Ecological models 



This study was supported by grant HL67350 from the National, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Ding Ding was supported by Active Living Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Conflict of Interest Statement

There is no conflict of interest to report.


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Copyright information

© The Society of Behavioral Medicine 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ding Ding
    • 1
    • 2
  • James F. Sallis
    • 1
  • Terry L. Conway
    • 1
  • Brian E. Saelens
    • 3
  • Lawrence D. Frank
    • 4
  • Kelli L. Cain
    • 1
  • Donald J. Slymen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family and Preventive MedicineUniversity of California San DiegoSan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of Public HealthSan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical CenterUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  4. 4.University of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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