Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 93, Issue 2, pp 271–278 | Cite as

The Influence of Neighborhood Crime on Increases in Physical Activity during a Pilot Physical Activity Intervention in Children

  • Stephanie T. BroylesEmail author
  • Candice A. Myers
  • Kathryn T. Drazba
  • Arwen M. Marker
  • Timothy S. Church
  • Robert L. NewtonJr.


The purpose of this study was to examine whether neighborhood crime moderated the response (increases in steps) to a pilot intervention to increase physical activity in children. Twenty-seven insufficiently active children aged 6–10 years (mean age = 8.7 years; 56 % female; 59 % African American) were randomly assigned to an intensive intervention group (IIG) or minimal intervention group (MIG). Change in average daily number of steps from baseline was regressed against an index of neighborhood crime in a multilevel repeated-measures model that included a propensity score to reduce confounding. Safer neighborhoods were associated with higher increases in steps during the pilot intervention (interaction p = 0.008). Children in the IIG living in low-crime neighborhoods significantly increased their physical activity (5275 ± 1040 steps/day) while those living in high-crime neighborhoods did not (1118 ± 1007) (p for difference = 0.046). In the IIG, the increase in daily steps was highly correlated with neighborhood crime (r = 0.58, p = 0.04). These findings suggest the need for physical activity interventions to account for participants’ environments in their design and/or delivery. To promote healthy behaviors in less-supportive environments, future studies should seek to understand how environments modify intervention response and to identify mediators of the relationship between environment and intervention.


Physical Activity Propensity Score Block Group Physical Activity Intervention Neighborhood Environment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Authors’ Contributions

STB conceived of the study, performed the analyses, and drafted the manuscript. RLNJr acquired the data (designing and directing the pilot intervention), aided with interpretation, and critically reviewed the manuscript. KTD, CAM, and AMM helped with data acquisition and critically reviewed the manuscript. TSC aided with interpretation and critically reviewed the manuscript. All authors provided final approval of the manuscript and agree to be to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Funding Source

This work was supported in part by an American Heart Association grant 11GRNT7750027 (Broyles). RLNJr was supported by unrestricted funds from the Coca-Cola Foundation. The sponsors had no role in the design or conduct of the study; the collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or the preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pennington Biomedical Research CenterBaton RougeUSA
  2. 2.University of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA
  3. 3.University of KansasLawrenceUSA

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