Development of an Instrument Measuring Perceived Environmental Healthfulness: Behavior Environment Perception Survey (BEPS)

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Date of Original Version



Objective: To create a tool to measure college students’ perception of the healthfulness of their environment. Design: (1) Item generation, (2) cognitive interview testing and exploratory factor analysis, (3) item refinement/modification, (4) factor structure validation, and (5) criterion validation. Setting: Ten college campuses. Participants: Time point 1 (n = 120 cognitive interviews; n = 922 factor analysis); time point 2 (n = 2,676), convenience sample of undergraduate students. Main Outcome Measures: Cognitive interviews and survey data were used to assess perceptions about the environment. Analysis: Exploratory factor analysis, structural equation confirmatory factor analysis, correlations, and regressions. Results: Item generation resulted in 93 items. Items were eliminated based on cognitive interviews, exploratory factor analysis of pilot data, and elimination of cross-loading or weak loading items. In confirmatory analyses, a 21-item, 5-factor structure was the best fit for the data (χ2 = 3,286.77, degrees of freedom = 189; comparative fit index = 0.840; root-mean-square error of approximation = 0.078). Environmental factors include physical activity (α = 0.68, 4 items), healthful eating (α = 0.86, 5 items), mental health (α = 0.85, 5 items), barriers to healthful eating (α = 0.70, 4 items), and peer influences (α = 0.73, 3 items). There were significant associations between scales and validation criteria (P < .05). Conclusions and Implications: The Behavior Environment Perception Survey is a novel instrument measuring perceptions of the healthfulness of the campus environment. Strengths include a development process involving 10 different universities, strong psychometric properties, and breadth of constructs.

Publication Title

Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior