The Rural Active Living Assessment (RALA) Tools

Author of Tool: 

David Hartley, Ph.D., Anush Yousefian, M.S., Renee Umstattd, Ph.D., Jeffrey Hallam, Ph.D., Christina Economos, Ph.D., Raymond Hyatt, Ph.D., & Erin Hennessy, M.P.H.

Key references: 

The RALA tools were designed by researchers at the Maine Rural Health Research Center, University of Southern Maine, and was tested and refined by researchers at the University of Southern Maine, Tufts University, University of Alabama, and University of Mississippi.

Primary use / Purpose: 

The RALA Tools assess the physical environment features and amenities, town characteristics, community programs, and policies that can affect physical activity among residents in rural communities. This tool is suitable for both practitioners and researchers. The tools include a RALA Codebook that provides users with a practical and simple guide for implementing the tool in rural communities across the U.S.

Background: 

The Rural Active Living Assessment (RALA) tools include three separate components: 1) Town-Wide (18 town characteristic questions, and inventory of 15 recreational amenities), 2) Program and Policy (20 questions), and 3) Street Segment (28 questions) Assessments. These three assessment instruments are designed to be used together and provide a comprehensive measure addressing many of the unique factors believed to be important to active living in rural communities.

The RALA tools were developed using an evidence-informed framework and substantial input from rural residents, and they were designed to balance the needs of practitioners (e.g., user-friendliness) and researchers (e.g., reliable measures). The modules capture specific physical activity amenities, programs and policies, as well as built environment features. The RALA Codebook provides users with a practical and simple guide for implementing the tool in rural communities across the U.S.

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