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Application of global positioning system methods for the study of obesity and hypertension risk among low-income housing residents in New York City: a spatial feasibility study

Dustin T. Duncan, Seann D. Regan, Donna Shelley, Kristen Day, Ryan R. Ruff, Maliyhah Al-Bayan, Brian Elbel
  • Dustin T. Duncan
    Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York; Global Institute of Public Health, New York University, New York; Population Center, New York University, New York, United States | dustin.duncan@nyumc.org
  • Seann D. Regan
    Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, United States
  • Donna Shelley
    Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York; Global Institute of Public Health, New York University, New York, United States
  • Kristen Day
    Department of Technology, Culture and Society, New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering, New York; Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, New York, United States
  • Ryan R. Ruff
    Global Institute of Public Health, New York University, New York; Department of Epidemiology and Health Promotion, New York University College of Dentistry, New York, United States
  • Maliyhah Al-Bayan
    Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York, United States
  • Brian Elbel
    Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine, New York; Global Institute of Public Health, New York University, New York; Population Center, New York University, New York; Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, New York University, New York, United States

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the feasibility of using global positioning system (GPS) methods to under- stand the spatial context of obesity and hypertension risk among a sample of low-income housing residents in New York City (n = 120). GPS feasibility among participants was measured with a pre- and post-survey as well as adherence to a pro- tocol which included returning the GPS device as well as objective data analysed from the GPS devices. We also conducted qualitative interviews with 21 of the participants. Most of the sample was overweight (26.7%) or obese (40.0%). Almost one-third (30.8%) was pre-hypertensive and 39.2% was hypertensive. Participants reported high ratings of GPS acceptabil- ity, ease of use and low levels of wear-related concerns in addition to few concerns related to safety, loss or appearance, which were maintained after the baseline GPS feasibility data collection. Results show that GPS feasibility increased over time. The overall GPS return rate was 95.6%. Out of the total of 114 participants with GPS, 112 (98.2%) delivered at least one hour of GPS data for one day and 84 (73.7%) delivered at least one hour on 7 or more days. The qualitative interviews indicated that overall, participants enjoyed wearing the GPS devices, that they were easy to use and charge and that they generally for- got about the GPS device when wearing it daily. Findings demonstrate that GPS devices may be used in spatial epidemiology research in low-income and potentially other key vulnerable populations to understand geospatial determinants of obesity, hypertension and other diseases that these populations disproportionately experience.

Keywords

spatial epidemiology, neighbourhoods, global positioning system, feasibility, low-income housing residents, health disparities, United States of America.

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Submitted: 2014-12-09 09:52:51
Published: 2014-11-01 00:00:00
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Copyright (c) 2014 Dustin T. Duncan, Seann D. Regan, Donna Shelley, Kristen Day, Ryan R. Ruff, Maliyhah Al-Bayan, Brian Elbel

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