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Development and reliability testing of a self-report instrument to measure the office layout as a correlate of occupational sitting

Mitch J Duncan1*, Mahbub Rashid2, Corneel Vandelanotte1, Nicoleta Cutumisu3 and Ronald C Plotnikoff4

Author Affiliations

1 Central Queensland University, Institute for Health and Social Science Research, Centre for Physical Activity Studies, Bld 18, 4702, Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia

2 Department of Architecture, School of Architecture, Design, and Planning, University of Kansas, 66045, Lawrence, Kansas, USA

3 Sedentary Living Laboratory, and the Alberta Centre for Active Living, Faculty of Physical Education and Recreation, University of Alberta, T6G 2H9, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

4 Priority Research Centre in Physical Activity and Nutrition, University of Newcastle, 2308, Callaghan, New South Wales, Australia

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2013, 10:16  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-10-16

Published: 4 February 2013



Spatial configurations of office environments assessed by Space Syntax methodologies are related to employee movement patterns. These methods require analysis of floors plans which are not readily available in large population-based studies or otherwise unavailable. Therefore a self-report instrument to assess spatial configurations of office environments using four scales was developed.


The scales are: local connectivity (16 items), overall connectivity (11 items), visibility of co-workers (10 items), and proximity of co-workers (5 items). A panel cohort (N = 1154) completed an online survey, only data from individuals employed in office-based occupations (n = 307) were used to assess scale measurement properties. To assess test-retest reliability a separate sample of 37 office-based workers completed the survey on two occasions 7.7 (±3.2) days apart. Redundant scale items were eliminated using factor analysis; Chronbach’s α was used to evaluate internal consistency and test re-test reliability (retest-ICC). ANOVA was employed to examine differences between office types (Private, Shared, Open) as a measure of construct validity. Generalized Linear Models were used to examine relationships between spatial configuration scales and the duration of and frequency of breaks in occupational sitting.


The number of items on all scales were reduced, Chronbach’s α and ICCs indicated good scale internal consistency and test re-test reliability: local connectivity (5 items; α = 0.70; retest-ICC = 0.84), overall connectivity (6 items; α = 0.86; retest-ICC = 0.87), visibility of co-workers (4 items; α = 0.78; retest-ICC = 0.86), and proximity of co-workers (3 items; α = 0.85; retest-ICC = 0.70). Significant (p ≤ 0.001) differences, in theoretically expected directions, were observed for all scales between office types, except overall connectivity. Significant associations were observed between all scales and occupational sitting behaviour (p ≤ 0.05).


All scales have good measurement properties indicating the instrument may be a useful alternative to Space Syntax to examine environmental correlates of occupational sitting in population surveys.

Sitting; Correlates; Workplace; Environment; Spatial configuration