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WASABE: Wisconsin Assessment of the Social and Built Environment

The Wisconsin Assessment of the Social and Built Environment (WASABE) is an objective audit tool designed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. WASABE was designed as an addition to the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) to objectively measure participants’ neighborhoods. The WASABE instrument was developed by a team of UW School of Medicine and Public Health researchers to capture a range of social and built environment features in urban and rural neighborhoods surrounding SHOW households. A paper about WASABE was just published by BioMed Central.

WASABE Abstract

 

Background

 

WASABE street network sampleWASABE test street network. View a larger version (pdf)

Growing evidence suggests mixed methods approaches to measuring neighborhood effects on health are needed. The Wisconsin Assessment of the Social and Built Environment (WASABE) is an objective audit tool designed as an addition to a statewide household-based health examination survey, the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW) to objectively measure participant’s neighborhoods.

 

The WASABE instrument was developed by a team of UW School of Medicine and Public Health researchers to capture a range of social and built environment features in urban and rural neighborhoods surrounding SHOW households.

 

A systematic literature review and formative research were used to create the tool. Inter-rater reliability parameters across items were calculated. Prevalence and density of features were estimated for strata formed according to several sociodemographic and urbanicity factors.

 

Results

 

The tool is highly reliable with over 81% of 115 derived items having percent agreement above 95%. It captured variance in neighborhood features in for a diverse sample of Survey of the Health of Wisconsin participants.

 

Sidewalk density in neighborhoods surrounding households of participants living at less than 100% of the poverty level 67% (95% confidence interval, 55-80%) compared to 34% (25-44%) for those living at greater than 400% of the poverty level. Walking and biking trails were present in 29% (19-39%) of participant polygons in urban areas compared to only 7% (2-12%) in rural communities.

 

Significant environmental differences were also observed for white versus non-white, high versus low income, and college graduates versus individuals with lower level of education.

 

Conclusions

 

The WASABE has strong inter-rater reliability and validity properties. It builds on previous work to provide a rigorous and standardized method for systematically gathering objective built and social environmental data in a number of geographic settings. Findings illustrate the complex milieu of built environment features found in participants neighborhoods and have relevance for future research, policy, and community engagement purposes.

 

WASABE Instrument (pdf)

 

WASABE User Manual (pdf)

 

Research Codebooks

 

SHOW and WASABE data documentation and codebooks are made available to registered parties. Registering is quick and easy. Please email our team at data@show.wisc.edu to register.


WASABE: Wisconsin Assessment of the Social and Built Environment

Last updated: 11/18/2014
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