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Table 2 Differences in NEWS/NEWS-A items* across 12 countries and proposed solutions to maximize comparability across countries

From: Sharing good NEWS across the world: developing comparable scores across 12 countries for the neighborhood environment walkability scale (NEWS)

Original NEWS/NEWS-A subscale and items Differences / issues Proposed solution
Residential density Original scale ranging from 1 to 5, with 1 denoting ‘none’. This yields positive density scores even in absence of residential buildings and sometimes similar density scores for environments with different densities. Recode original response scale ranging from 1 to 5 to 0 = none; 1 = a few; 2 = some; 3 = most; 4 = all
  Belgium used a 3-point (none; some; many) rather than 5-point scale (none; a few; some; most; all) on all subscale items. The Belgian response “some” will be given a value of 2 (as in the recoded 5-point scale), while “many” will be assigned a value of 3, corresponding to “most” on the recoded 5-point scale.
1. Detached single-family residences None NA
2. Townhouses or rows of 1–3 stories houses Hong Kong combined this item with item 3. This item and item 3 have similar density weights (12 and 10). The Hong Kong item will be given a mid-weight of 11. For all other sites, with the exception of the UK which does not have item 3, the item with the highest rating (between item 2 and 3) will be chosen to be included in the summary residential density score and given a weight of 11. If items 2 and 3 have equal ratings, one of them will be included in the calculations and given a weight of 11.
The UK will have this item weighted by 11.
3. Apartments or condos with 1–3 stories Hong Kong combined this item with item 2. See comments for item 2.
The UK combined this item with item 4. For the UK site, see comment for item 4 below.
4. Apartments of condos with 4–6 stories The UK combined this item with item 3. Items 3 and 4 have very different weights (12 and 25, respectively). We will weigh this UK item by the mid-point of the two original weights (18.5), with the assumption that the two types of apartments have similar prevalence.
5. Apartments or condos with 7–12 stories None NA
6. Apartments or condos with >12 stories Australia, Belgium, Denmark, the Czech Republic, and the UK did not include it because high-rise residential buildings were judged to have very low prevalence. Hong Kong modified this item to read “Apartments or condos with 12–20 stories”. No action is required as such buildings have low prevalence in the study sites that omitted this item. The mean score on this item would have been close to 0 and, thus, not adding to the overall density score. Hong Kong modified this item to distinguish residential buildings with 12–20 stories from those with 20–50 stories, which are common in Hong Kong but not in other study sites.
7. Apartments or condos with >20 stories Hong Kong added this item to the subscale. This item will be given a weight of 100.
Land use mix – access   
1. Stores within easy walking distance None NA
2. Many places within walking distance Belgium and the UK did not include this item. For these two countries, the CFA and summary score on this subscale will be based on 2 rather than 3 items. Using data from other countries, ascertain the correspondence between scores based on the 2- and 3-item subscales.
3. Easy to walk to a transit stop None NA
Street connectivity   
1. Short distance between intersections Belgium did not include this item but had an additional item “four-way intersections” that is part of the NEWS street connectivity subscale Include the additional connectivity item in the Belgian CFA model and, using data from countries that had all three street connectivity items, ascertain the comparability of the two 2-item street connectivity scores and a connectivity score based on an item common to Belgium and other countries (item 2).
2. Many alternative routes Australia did not include this item but had an additional item “four-way intersections” that is part of the NEWS street connectivity subscale Include the additional connectivity item in the Australian CFA model and, using data from countries that had all three street connectivity items, ascertain the comparability of the two 2-item street connectivity scores and a connectivity score based on an item common to Australia and other countries (item 1)
Infrastructure and safety for walking and cycling   
1. Sidewalks None NA
2. Cars separating sidewalks and traffic Hong Kong did not include this item. Belgium combined it with item 3. For these countries, the CFAs and summary score on this subscale will be based on a smaller number of items. Using data from other countries, ascertain the correspondence between scores on the subscale based on different combinations of items.
3. Grass/dirt separating sidewalks and traffic Hong Kong did not include this item. Belgium combined it with item 3. As above (see item 2).
4. Street lights None NA
5. Walkers and bikers easily seen Australia, Brazil, and Hong Kong did not have this item. As above (see item 2)
6. Crosswalks and pedestrian signals None NA
Aesthetics   
1. Trees Australia included a slightly different item from the NEWS: “trees give shade”. Include the additional item in the Australian CFA model and, using data from countries that had this additional item, ascertain the comparability of the Australian 4-item version of the subscale with the original 4-item version.
2. Many interesting things to look at Belgium and the UK did not include this item. For these two countries, the CFA and summary score on this subscale will be based on 3 rather than 4 items. Using data from other sites, ascertain the correspondence between scores based on the 3- and 4-item subscales.
3. Many attractive natural sights None NA
4. Attractive buildings/homes None NA
Traffic safety/hazards   
1. Heavy traffic along nearby streets Brazil and the Czech Republic included a slightly different item from the NEWS: “heavy traffic along the street” Use the slightly different item as a substitute for item 1. Using data from other countries that included all relevant items, ascertain the correspondence between scores based on the common subscale and these two countries’ version of the subscale.
2. Slow traffic speed on nearby streets Australia, Belgium, and the Czech republic included a slightly different item from the NEWS: “slow traffic speed on the street” Use the slightly different item as a substitute for item 2. Using data from other sites that included all relevant items, ascertain the correspondence between scores based on the common subscale and these three sites’ version of the subscale.
3. Speeding drivers Australia did not include this item. The Australian CFA and summary score on this subscale will be based on 2 rather than 3 items. Using data from other countries, ascertain the correspondence between scores based on the 2- and 3-item subscales.
Safety from crime   
1. High crime rate None NA
2. Unsafe to walk during the day None NA
3. Unsafe to walk at night None NA
Few cul-de-sacs None NA
Physical barriers to walking Some differences in examples of type of barriers to walking. NA
  1. NEWS, Neighborhood environment walkability scale; NEWS-A, NEWS, Abbreviated form; NA, Not applicable; CFA, Confirmatory factor analysis; UK, United Kingdom; *Except for the items of the land use mix – diversity scale, which as explained in the text, was modified to provide a good match for all sites.