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Title: Understanding rural walkability : the pastoral study in Northern Ireland
Author: Ferguson, Sara
ISNI:       0000 0004 6425 2792
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2017
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Determinants of physical activity behaviours are multifaceted and promotional efforts require the comprehensive consideration of both individual and environmental influences. Complementing the existing extensive research concerning the characterisation of urban 'walkable' environments, this thesis examines walkability in the rural context through a mixed- methods exploration of physical activity, settlement typologies and opportunities for rural active living (PASTORAL). Firstly, a participant-driven photo-elicitation exercise with rural residents is employed to help identify physical environment facilitators and impediments to walking, and form a conceptual framework of rural walkability. This is subsequently developed into an inventory instrument ('ARABLE'), and implemented using a GIS-based approach in over 900 rural Northern Ireland postcode locations (obtained from SAPAS 2010). As the postcode locations are affiliated with both walking activity data and objective physical environment measures, a series of statistical analyses are conducted to identify physical environment correlates of recreational and travel walking. The thematic analysis of the qualitative data highlight physical environment accessibility, availability, appeal, assurances of safety and acceptability, as important rural walkability themes. The successive quantitative analyses also identify several significant associations between environmental factors and walking, with variations being revealed by the type of walking, the type of settlement, and the type of physical environment under investigation. Generally, the research emphasises the importance of the availability and accessibility of built environment services, facilities and infrastructure, to walking, particularly within rural settlement contexts. Features specifically linked to recreational and community environments in these settings are also highlighted as important. Conversely, open countryside contexts whereby natural environments are somewhat more pervasive, uncover substantially fewer walking correlates. Although future studies are requisite for identifying environmental determinants, the findings indicate a potential for physical interventions and policy changes in both built and natural environments, and across all settlement patterns, to increase rural walkability and promote recreational and travel walking.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available