Prioritizing a research agenda on built environments and physical activity: A twin panel Delphi consensus process with researchers and knowledge users

Stephanie A. Prince, Justin J. Lang, Margaret de Groh, Hannah Badland, Anthony Barnett, Lori Baugh Littlejohns, Nicholas C. Brandon, Gregory P. Butler, Géna Casu, Ester Cerin, Rachel C. Colley, Louise de Lannoy, Iryna Demchenko, Holly N. Ellingwood, Kelly R. Evenson, Guy Faulkner, Liraz Fridman, Christine M. Friedenreich, Daniel L. Fuller, Pamela FuselliLora M. Giangregorio, Neeru Gupta, Adriano A. Hino, Clare Hume, Birgit Isernhagen, Bin Jalaludin, Jeroen Lakerveld, Richard Larouche, Stephenie C. Lemon, Constantinos A. Loucaides, Jay E. Maddock, Gavin R. McCormack, Aman Mehta, Karen Milton, Jorge Mota, Victor D. Ngo, Neville Owen, Adewale L. Oyeyemi, António L. Palmeira, Daniel G. Rainham, Ryan E. Rhodes, Nicola D. Ridgers, Inge Roosendaal, Dori E. Rosenberg, Jasper Schipperijn, Sandra J. Slater, Kate E. Storey, Mark S. Tremblay, Mark A. Tully, Leigh M. Vanderloo, Jenny Veitch, Christina Vietinghoff, Stephen Whiting, Meghan Winters, Linchuan Yang, Robert Geneau

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Background: The growth of urban dwelling populations globally has led to rapid increases of research and policy initiatives addressing associations between the built environment and physical activity (PA). Given this rapid proliferation, it is important to identify priority areas and research questions for moving the field forward. The objective of this study was to identify and compare research priorities on the built environment and PA among researchers and knowledge users (e.g., policy makers, practitioners). Methods: Between September 2022 and April 2023, a three-round, modified Delphi survey was conducted among two independent panels of international researchers (n = 38) and knowledge users (n = 23) to identify similarities and differences in perceived research priorities on the built environment and PA and generate twin ‘top 10’ lists of the most important research needs. Results: From a broad range of self-identified issues, both panels ranked in common the most pressing research priorities including stronger study designs such as natural experiments, research that examines inequalities and inequities, establishing the cost effectiveness of interventions, safety and injuries related to engagement in active transportation (AT), and considerations for climate change and climate adaptation. Additional priorities identified by researchers included: implementation science, research that incorporates Indigenous perspectives, land-use policies, built environments that support active aging, and participatory research. Additional priorities identified by knowledge users included: built environments and PA among people living with disabilities and a need for national data on trip chaining, multi-modal travel, and non-work or school-related AT. Conclusions: Five common research priorities between the two groups emerged, including (1) to better understand causality, (2) interactions with the natural environment, (3) economic evaluations, (4) social disparities, and (5) preventable AT-related injuries. The findings may help set directions for future research, interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaborations, and funding opportunities.

Original languageEnglish
Article number144
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2023


  • Built environment
  • Delphi
  • Knowledge gaps
  • Knowledge translation
  • Physical activity

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