Spatial accessibility and availability measures and statistical properties in the food environment

Spatial accessibility is of increasing interest in the health sciences. This paper addresses the statistical use of spatial accessibility and availability indices. These measures are evaluated via an extensive simulation based on cluster models for local food outlet density. We derived Monte Carlo critical values for several statistical tests based on the indices. In particular we are interested in the ability to make inferential comparisons between different study areas where indices of accessibility and availability are to be calculated. We derive tests of mean difference as well as tests for differences in Moran’s I for spatial correlation for each of the accessibility and availability indices. We also apply these new statistical tests to a data example based on two counties in South Carolina for various accessibility and availability measures calculated for food outlets, stores, and restaurants.