Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Sharing good NEWS across the world: developing comparable scores across 12 countries for the neighborhood environment walkability scale (NEWS)

Ester Cerin113, Terry L Conway2, Kelli L Cain2, Jacqueline Kerr2, Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij3, Neville Owen4, Rodrigo S Reis5, Olga L Sarmiento6, Erica A Hinckson7, Deborah Salvo8, Lars B Christiansen9, Duncan J MacFarlane1, Rachel Davey10, Josef Mitáš11, Ines Aguinaga-Ontoso12 and James F Sallis2*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Human Performance, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Rd SAR, Hong Kong, 111-113, Hong Kong

2 University of California, San Diego, 3900 Fifth Avenue, Suite 310, San Diego, CA, 92103, USA

3 Ghent University, Watersportlaan 2, Ghent, 9000, Belgium

4 Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute, University of Queensland,, St Kilda Road, PO Box 6492, Central Victoria, 8008, Australia

5 Catholic University of Parana, Rua Imaculada Conceição, Curitiba, 1155, Brazil

6 Universidad de los Andes Carrera, 1ª N° 18A 10, Bogotá, Colombia

7 Auckland University of Technology, Private Bag 92006, Auckland, 1142, New Zealand

8 Emory University, 1518 Clifton Rd, CNR 7040E, Atlanta, GA, 30329, USA

9 Institute of Sport Science and Clinical Biomechanics, University of Southern Denmark, Campusvej 55, Odense, M, 5230, Denmark

10 Canberra University, University Drive Bruce, Canberra, ACT 2601, Australia

11 Institute of Active Lifestyle’, Palacký University Tř. Míru, Olomouc, 115 77111, Czech Republic

12 Public University of Navarra, Pio XII 36, Pamplona, Navarre, 31080, Spain

13 Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition Research (C-PAN), School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, 22 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Public Health 2013, 13:309  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-309

Published: 8 April 2013



The IPEN (International Physical Activity and Environment Network) Adult project seeks to conduct pooled analyses of associations of perceived neighborhood environment, as measured by the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale (NEWS) and its abbreviated version (NEWS-A), with physical activity using data from 12 countries. As IPEN countries used adapted versions of the NEWS/NEWS-A, this paper aimed to develop scoring protocols that maximize cross-country comparability in responses. This information is also highly relevant to non-IPEN studies employing the NEWS/NEWS-A, which is one of the most popular measures of perceived environment globally.


The following countries participated in the IPEN Adult study: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Hong Kong, Mexico, New Zealand, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Participants (N = 14,305) were recruited from neighborhoods varying in walkability and socio-economic status. Countries collected data on the perceived environment using a self- or interviewer-administered version of the NEWS/NEWS-A. Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) was used to derive comparable country-specific measurement models of the NEWS/NEWS-A. The level of correspondence between standard and alternative versions of the NEWS/NEWS-A factor-analyzable subscales was determined by estimating the correlations and mean standardized difference (Cohen’s d) between them using data from countries that had included items from both standard and alternative versions of the subscales.


Final country-specific measurement models of the NEWS/NEWS-A provided acceptable levels of fit to the data and shared the same factorial structure with six latent factors and two single items. The correspondence between the standard and alternative versions of subscales of Land use mixaccess, Infrastructure and safety for walking/cycling, and Aesthetics was high. The Brazilian version of the Traffic safety subscale was highly, while the Australian and Belgian versions were marginally, comparable to the standard version. Single-item versions of the Street connectivity subscale used in Australia and Belgium showed marginally acceptable correspondence to the standard version.


We have proposed country-specific modifications to the original scoring protocol of the NEWS/NEWS-A that enhance inter-country comparability. These modifications have yielded sufficiently equivalent measurement models of the NEWS/NEWS-A. Some inter-country discrepancies remain. These need to be considered when interpreting findings from different countries.

Built environment; Questionnaire; Global; Confirmatory factor analysis; Pooled analyses