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Can the impact on health of a government policy designed to create more liveable neighbourhoods be evaluated? An overview of the RESIDential Environment Project

Billie Giles-Corti A F , Matthew Knuiman A , Terri J. Pikora A , Kimberly Van Neil B , Anna Timperio C , Fiona C. L. Bull D , Trevor Shilton E and Max Bulsara A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A School of Population Health, University of Western Australia

B School of Earth and Geographical Sciences, University of Western Australia

C Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University

D Adjunct Appointment, School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia and Reader, School of Exercise & Sports Sciences, Loughborough University

E National Heart Foundation, Subiaco, WA

F Corresponding author: Email:

NSW Public Health Bulletin 18(12) 238-242
Published: 6 December 2007


There is growing interest in the impact of community design on the health of residents. In 1998, the Western Australian Government began a trial of new subdivision design codes (i.e. Liveable Neighbourhoods Community Design Code) aimed at creating pedestrian-friendly neighbourhoods to increase walking, cycling and public transport use. The trial provided a unique opportunity for a natural experiment to evaluate the impact of a government planning policy on residents. Nevertheless, evaluations of this kind present a number of methodological challenges in obtaining the highest quality evidence possible. This paper describes the RESIDential Environment Project’s study design and discusses how various methodological challenges were overcome.


Funding received from the Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway) and the Australian Research Council is gratefully acknowledged. The first author is supported by a NHMRC/NHF Career Development Award (Grant No. 254688). Anna Timperio is supported by a VicHealth Public Health Fellowship (2004 0536). Editorial assistance provided by Sarah French is gratefully acknowledged.


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