Using Linked Data to Explore the Relationship Between Walking-Friendliness of Neighbourhoods, Physical Activity and Body Mass IJPDS (2017) Issue 1, Vol 1:322 Proceedings of the IPDLN Conference (August 2016)

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Nancy Ross
Kaberi Dasgupta
Claudia Sanmartin
Rania Wasfi
Samantha Hajna
Sarah Mah
Published online: Apr 19, 2017


To demonstrate the methodology and results for linking measures of neighbourhood walking-friendliness or "walkability" to Canadian health surveys and Canadian health surveys linked to administrative health care records.

We linked multiple measures of neighbourhood walkability to hundreds of thousands of 6-digit postal codes of respondents to three large Canadian surveys using geographic information systems and anonymized banks of postal codes.

Long term exposure to walkable neighbourhoods was associated with increased reporting of walking for utilitarian purposes. Moving to a high walkable neighbourhood from a low walkable neighbourhood was associated with a full unit decrease in the body mass index of Canadian men over a 12-year follow-up. In a linkage of walkability measures to respondents who wore biosensors for a one-week period in several Canadian cities, we found that neighbourhood walkability was associated with increased reporting of utilitarian walking but not overall physical activity and step counts as measured by biosensors.

There is potential for walkable neighbourhoods to influence physical activity and body weight of Canadians which is more evident when individuals are followed for long periods of time.


The Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) is a UK-wide initiative, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The Network facilitates safe access to linked de-identified administrative data for research which is aimed at providing a benefit to our society. Administrative data research can provide wide ranging and longitudinal evidence for policy makers which therefore has the potential to improve our society.


Recognising the importance of public confidence and trust to the success of the ADRN, the ESRC commissioned a public consultation to gauge understanding of social research and the reactions to the use of administrative data in research. A comprehensive UK-wide communications and public engagement strategy has been developed. From this a number of initiatives been introduced over the past two years to address public concerns and these have been reviewed, revised and extended as the Network has evolved.

Now to extend the Network's reach, the Administrative Data Research Network is developing a UK National Citizens Panel (CP). The panel will provide a representation of public views on potential changes to Network policy, procedures, governance and service provision issues. The CP will also assist with testing our public facing communications such as events, website and promotional materials.


This paper presents the previous and current public engagement initiatives that the Administrative Data Research Network has incorporated within its policies and service that enables better knowledge for a better society

Funded by the Economic & Social Research Council, the ADRN, set up as part of the UK Government's Big Data initiative, is a UK-wide partnership between universities, government bodies, national statistics authorities and the wider research community.

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