The NIfETy Method for Environmental Assessment of Neighborhood-level Indicators of Violence, Alcohol, and Other Drug Exposure

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Abstract

There are limited validated quantitative assessment methods to measure features of the built and social environment that might form the basis for environmental preventive interventions. This study describes a model approach for epidemiologic assessment of suspected environmental determinants of violence, alcohol and other drug (VAOD) exposure and fills this gap in current research. The investigation sought to test the feasibility of a systematic and longitudinal assessment of residential block characteristics related to physical and social disorder and indicators of VAOD exposure. Planometric data were used to establish a stratified random sample of street segments within defined neighborhoods of an urban metropolitan area. Field rater assessments of these neighborhood street segments were conducted using the Neighborhood Inventory for Environmental Typology (NIfETy). This report provides a detailed description of the NIfETy Method, including metric properties of the NIfETy Instrument and outcomes of training procedures and quality control measures. Also presented are block-level characteristics and estimates of observable signs of VAOD activity. This work is a first step toward developing future community-level environmental preventive interventions geared to reduce community VAOD exposure among youthful urban populations and may prove to be useful to other public health research groups as well.

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