Seattle Children's and the University of Washington are conducting a research study, the Travel Assessment and Community (TRAC) Project, to learn more about how a person's neighborhood relates to their activity, where they go and their overall well-being. The goal is to better understand the relationship between where people live and their overall health.

Who can take part in the research study?

About 1,000 adults will take part in this study. All participants must live in neighborhoods in King County in Washington state.

What is involved in the research study?

Participants will complete three one-week assessments for the study over four years. The first assessment will be done as soon as they enroll in the study. The second assessment will be done in two years. The final assessment will be done in four years. This will help us look at any changes in neighborhoods or transportation options across time. All participation will be done by phone, mail, or email - participants will not need to travel to Seattle Children's or the University of Washington.

Participants will do these activities during each of the three time periods:

  • Complete a travel and demographic survey: The survey will ask participants to provide important information about their home, work, neighborhood and activities, such as:
    • Age, gender and employment status
    • Number of people living in the household and number of licensed drivers
    • How long participants have lived in the neighborhood and reason for moving there
    • Access to services and activities

The survey takes about 30 minutes to complete and can be done on paper or online.

  • Wear an activity meter and portable global positioning system (GPS): Participants will wear a movement meter and portable GPS. Each is a small box; the meter is similar to but smaller than a pager, and the GPS is about the size of a Palm Pilot. They attach to a belt worn just above the right hip and can be worn over or under clothing. The activity meter measures the amount and intensity of movement. It does not measure the type of activity. The GPS records where participants go throughout the day. It also calculates speed so we can tell when participants are walking, biking or in a car or bus.

The GPS and activity meter are both worn for seven consecutive days for at least 10 hours a day.

  • Complete a travel log: Participants will also complete a travel log to record trips taken over a seven-day period. It takes about 15 minutes a day to complete the log. Participants will record information on each trip, such as the purpose, travel mode (bus, car, walking or others), and amount of time spent at destinations. Travel origins and destinations will also be recorded.

What are the benefits of taking part in this research study?

Participants are not likely to receive any direct benefit, although they may benefit from learning more about the choices they make throughout the day. This study will help us find out about how a person's neighborhood and transportation options are related to their level of physical activity. This information could help find good ways to improve neighborhoods.

Will participants be paid for their time?

Participants will receive $50 following the first assessment, $60 after completing the second assessment and $75 after the final assessment. As described above, the first assessment happens as soon as a participant enrolls in the study. The second assessment is in two years, and the final assessment is in four years.

What are the risks of taking part in this research study?

There is some potential for social embarrassment while wearing the movement meter and GPS, although the meter and GPS are small and can be worn over or under clothing. There are no known health risks or problems associated with wearing the meter or GPS. They are commonly used to get a good measure of overall movement and location.

Will my information from the study be kept confidential?

Information provided will be kept strictly confidential to the extent allowed by law. Every participant will be given a number so that names will not be associated with any data. All data provided will be computer-entered by code number, not name.

Data will be stored in locked file cabinets and protected computer files at our laboratories at Seattle Children's and the University of Washington. Only the investigators and research assistants associated with this study and Children's Institutional Review Board (a committee that protects the rights and welfare of children and families who participate in research activities) will have access to this information. Information from participants will be combined when presenting results so that no one's individual information will be seen.

What rights do research participants have?

Participation in this study is voluntary. Any decision to participate will not influence participants' future relations with Seattle Children's or the University of Washington. Participants are free to withdraw their participation at any time without penalty.

How much time will it take to participate in this research study?

Participants will be in the research study for about four years. During that time, they will spend about one week providing information at each of the three time periods, for a total commitment of about three weeks. However, participants can decide to stop taking part in the study at any time.

What happens after the research study is over?

Study results will be published with any names or other identifying information removed. Interested participants can request a summary of the study results to be sent to them in the mail.

Why is this research study important?

This study is important because it will help us learn more out about how a person's neighborhood and transportation options are related to their level of physical activity. This information could help find good ways to improve neighborhoods.

Who is funding this research study?

This study is funded by the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children's Research Institute. Funding through the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is currently pending.

Where does the research study take place?

All participation will be done by phone, mail, or email - participants will not need travel to Children's or the University of Washington.

Are there any costs to participate in this study?

No. There are no costs to participate in this study.