Objective evaluation of recreational facilities: Development and reliability of the recreational facility audit tool

Author(s): Lee KY, Macfarlane D, Cerin E


The characteristics of recreational facilities are determinants of facility use and physical activity, yet there are few validated and extensive audit tools gauging characteristics of recreational facilities. This study aimed to describe the development of a 111-item audit tool that objectively evaluates the characteristics of recreational facilities across 10 domains, including the availability of sports facilities, accessibility to the facility, availability of supportive amenities, conditions of changing rooms, conditions of toilets, management, policy, environmental safety, aesthetics, and social environment. The intra- and inter-rater reliability indices of the audit tool were also examined. In the intra-rater reliability tests, 20 recreational facilities were examined twice by the same auditor, with one week apart between each audit. The inter-rater reliability was assessed using data from 20 recreational facilities that were examined twice by two independent auditors. Kappa statistics, percent agreement and intra-class correlation coefficients were computed. The average intra- and inter-rater percent agreement was 96.9% and 90.6% respectively. The majority of items (n=107 and 101) showed either good percent agreement or acceptable kappa values in the intra- and interreliability tests respectively. The overall intra- and inter-rater reliability of the audit tool was acceptable. Subjective and time-sensitive audit items may need clearer descriptions and multiple repeated measures to improve their reliability. The audit tool can be used to reliably assess indoor sports centres, parks, sports grounds, playgrounds and swimming pools. The objective data collected by this audit tool would contribute to the understanding of relationships between characteristics of recreational facilities, usage and physical activity.

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