Using Citizen Scientists to Gather, Analyze, and Disseminate Information About Neighborhood Features That Affect Active Living

Sandra J. Winter, Lisa Goldman Rosas, Priscilla Padilla Romero, Jylana L. Sheats, Matthew Buman, Cathleen Baker, Abby C. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Many Latinos are insufficiently active, partly due to neighborhoods with little environmental support for physical activity. Multi-level approaches are needed to create health-promoting neighborhoods in disadvantaged communities. Participant “citizen scientists” were adolescent (n = 10, mean age = 12.8 ± 0.6 years) and older adult (n = 10, mean age = 71.3 ± 6.5 years), low income Latinos in North Fair Oaks, California. Citizen scientists conducted environmental assessments to document perceived barriers to active living using the Stanford Healthy Neighborhood Discovery Tool, which records GPS-tracked walking routes, photographs, audio narratives, and survey responses. Using a community-engaged approach, citizen scientists subsequently attended a community meeting to engage in advocacy training, review assessment data, prioritize issues to address and brainstorm potential solutions and partners. Citizen scientists each conducted a neighborhood environmental assessment and recorded 366 photographs and audio narratives. Adolescents (n = 4), older adults (n = 7) and community members (n = 4) collectively identified reducing trash and improving personal safety and sidewalk quality as the priority issues to address. Three adolescent and four older adult citizen scientists volunteered to present study findings to key stakeholders. This study demonstrated that with minimal training, low-income, Latino adolescent and older adult citizen scientists can: (1) use innovative technology to gather information about features of their neighborhood environment that influence active living, (2) analyze their information and identify potential solutions, and (3) engage with stakeholders to advocate for the development of healthier neighborhoods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1126-1138
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • Built environment
  • Community engaged approach
  • Latinos
  • Mobile technology
  • Physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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