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Professor Karen Witten, MSc, PhD.

Karen’s research interests centre on interactions between the physical characteristics of neighbourhoods and cities and the social relationships, health and sustainability-related practices of the people living in them. Recent studies have investigated social impacts of scenarios to reduce household CO2 emissions, the meaning of social and recreational travel, and neighbourhood design determinants of walking and cycling. Current work is exploring children’s and parents’ experiences of neighbourhood environments and how these experiences cohere to constrain or enable children’s independent mobility.

On behalf of the BRCSS Network (Building Capability in the Social Sciences) Karen has been involved in surveying the New Zealand social science research community about its research activities and outcomes, workforce capacity and capability building and the uptake of social science research within the policy sector.

Email: k.witten@massey.ac.nz


Journal Articles

Smith, M., Hosking, J., Woodward, A., Witten, K., MacMillan, A., Field, A., Baas, P., Mackie, H. (2017). Systematic literature review of built environment effects on physical activity and active transport – an update and new findings on health equity. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 14(158), DOI 10.1186/s12966-12017-10613-12969. A413

Rychert, M., & Wilkins, C., & Witten, K. (2017). Issues with monitoring the safety of psychoactive products under a legal regulated market for new psychoactive substances (NPS) (‘legal highs’) in New Zealand. Drug and Alcohol Review, published online 27 Feb, doi: 10.1111/dar.12467 [Abstract]. A405

Rychert, M., Wilkins, C., Witten, K. (2017). "Lost in translation": issues with the establishment of a legal market for ‘low risk’ psychoactive products (‘legal highs’) in New Zealand. Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy, Published online: 02 Feb, doi: 10.1080/09687637.09682017.01282422 [Abstract]. A401

Chaudhury, M., Oliver, M., Badland, H., & Witten, K. (2017). Using the Public Open Space Attributable Index tool to assess children’s public open space use and access by independent mobility. Children’s Geographies, 15, 193-206, doi: 10.1080/14733285.14732016.11214684 [Abstract]. A391

Oliver, M., McPhee, J., Carroll, P., Ikeda, E., Mavoa, S., Mackay, L., Kearns, R., Kytta, M., Asiasiga, L., Garrett, N., Lin, J., Mackett, R., Zinn, C., Moewaka Barnes, H., Egli, V., Prendergast, K., & Witten, K. (2016). Neighbourhoods for Active Kids: Study protocol for a cross-sectional examination of neighbourhood features and children’s physical activity, active travel, independent mobility and body size. BMJ Open, 6, e013377 [Article]. A392

Oliver, M., Parker, K., Witten, K., Mavoa, S., Badland, H., Chaudury, M., & Kearns, R. (2016). Children’s out-of-school independent mobility, active travel, and physical activity: A cross-sectional examination from the Kids in the City study. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 13(3), 318-324 [Abstract]. A389

Ergler, C., Kearns, R., & Witten, K. (2016). Exploring children's seasonal play to promote active lifestyles in Auckland, New Zealand. Health & Place, 41, 67-77 [Article]. A388

Ivory, V., Blakely, T., Pearce, J., Witten, K., Bagheri, N., Badland, H., & Schofield, G. (2015). Could strength of exposure to the residential neighbourhood modify associations between walkability and physical activity? Social Science and Medicine, 147, 232-241. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.10.053 [Article]. A374

Oliver, M., Mavoa, S., Badland, H., Parker, K., Donovan, P., Kearns, R., Lin, E.-Y., & Witten, K. (2015). Associations between the neighbourhood built environment and out of school physical activity and active travel: An examination from the Kids in the City study. Health & Place, 36, 57-64. doi:10.1016/j.healthplace.2015.09.005 [Article]. A366

Badland, H., Kearns, R., Carroll, P., Oliver, M., Mavoa, S., Donovan, P., Parker, K., Chaudhury, M., Lin, J., & Witten, K. (2015). Development of a systems model to visualise the complexity of children's independent mobility. Children’s Geographies, Published online: 16 Mar 2015, doi:10.1080/14733285.14732015.11021240. A361

Badland, H., Donovan, P., Mavoa, S., Oliver, M., Chaudhury, M., & Witten, K. (2015). Assessing neighbourhood destination access for children: Development of the NDAI-C audit tool. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 42, doi:10.1068/b140009p. A362

Carroll, P., Witten, K., Kearns, R., & Donovan, P. (2015) Kids in the City: Children's use and experiences of urban neighbourhoods in Auckland, New Zealand. Journal of Urban Design, published online 23 Jun 2015, doi:10.1080/13574809.13572015.11044504. A360

Witten, K., Kearns, R., & Carroll, P. (2015). Urban inclusion as wellbeing; exploring children’s accounts of confronting diversity on inner city streets. Social Science and Medicine, 133, 349-357, doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2015.1001.1016. A353

Chapman, R., Howden-Chapman, P., Keall, M., Witten, K., Abrahamse, W., Woodward, A., Muggeridge, D., Beetham, J., & Grams, M. (2014). Increasing active travel: aims, methods and baseline measures of a quasi-experimental study. BMC Public Health, 14(935), DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-1114-1935. A348

Hinckson, E., McGrath, L., Hopkins, W., Oliver, M., Badland, H., Mavoa, S., Witten, K., & Kearns, R. (2014). Distance to school is associated with sedentary time in children: Findings from the URBAN study. Child Health and Human Development, 2(151), doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2014.00151.

Oliver, M., Badland, H., Mavoa, S., Witten, K., Kearns, R., Ellaway, A., Hinckson, E., Mackay, L., & Schluter, P. (2014). Environmental and socio-demographic associates of children's active transport to school: a cross-sectional investigation from the URBAN Study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 11(70), http://www.ijbnpa.org/content/11/11/70. A346

Oliver, M., Mavoa, S., Badland, H., Carroll, P., Asiasiga, L., Tavae, N., Kearns, R., & Witten, K. (2014). What constitutes a trip? Examining child journey attributes using GPS and self-report. Children’s Geographies, 12(2), 249-256. A338

Macmillan, A., Connor, J., Witten, K., Kearns, R., Rees, D., & Woodward, A. (2014). The Societal Costs and Benefits of Commuter Bicycling: Simulating the Effects of Specific Policies Using System Dynamics Modeling. Environmental Health Perspectives, 122(4), 335–344. doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1307250. A337

Witten, K., Kearns, R., Carroll, P., Asiasiga, L. & Tava'e, N. (2013) New Zealand parents' understandings of the intergenerational decline in children's independent outdoor play and active travel. Children's Geographies, 11(2), 215-229. doi: 10.1080/14733285.2013.779839. A321

Ergler, C., Kearns, R., & Witten, K. (2013). Seasonal and locational variations in children's play: Implications for wellbeing. Social Science and Medicine, Social Science and Medicine, 91, 178-185. A357

Badland, H., Oliver, M., Kearns, R., Mavoa, S., Witten, K., Duncan, M., Batty, G. (2012). Association of neighbourhood residence and preferences with the built environment, work-related travel behaviours, and health implications for employed adults: Findings from the URBAN study. Social Science and Medicine, in press, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.1005.1029. A308

Witten, K., Blakely, T., Bagheri, N., Badland, H., Ivory, V., Pearce, J., Mavoa, S., Hinckson, E., Schofield, G. (2012). Neighborhood Built Environment and Transport and Leisure Physical Activity: Findings Using Objective Exposure and Outcome Measures in New Zealand. Environmental Health Perspectives, 120(7), 971-977 http://dx.doi.org/910.1289/ehp.1104584. A307

Ivory V, Witten K, Salmond C, Lin E-Y, You R, Blakely T. (2012). The New Zealand Index of Neighbourhood Social Fragmentation: integrating theory and data. Environment and Planning A. 2012;44:972-88. [Abstract] A303

Mavoa, S., Witten, K., McCreanor, T., & O’Sullivan, D. (2012). GIS based destination accessibility via public transit and walking in Auckland, New Zealand. Journal of Transport Geography, 20(1), 15-22. [Abstract] A299

Mavoa, S., Oliver, M., Witten, K., & Badland, H. (2011). Linking GPS and travel diary data using sequence alignment in a study of children’s independent mobility. International Journal of Health Geographics, 10(64), http://www.ij-healthgeographics.com/content/10/11/64. A294

Lin, E.-Y., Witten, K., Casswell, S., & You, R. Q. (2011). Neighbourhood matters: Perceptions of neighbourhood cohesiveness and associations with alcohol, cannabis and tobacco use. Drug and Alcohol Review, Article first published online: 5 DEC, DOI: 10.1111/j.1465-3362.2011.00385.x. A289

Oliver, M., Witten, K., Kearns, R., Mavoa, S., Badland, H., Carroll, P., . . . Ergler, C. (2011). Kids in the city study: research design and methodology. BMC Public Health, 11(587). A284

Witten, K., Abrahamse, W., & Stuart, K. (Eds.). (2011). Growth Misconduct? Avoiding Sprawl and Improving Urban Intensification in New Zealand. Wellington: New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities, University of Otago

Witten, K. Pearce, J. & Day, P. (2011). Neighbourhood Destination Accessibility Index: A GIS tool for measuring infrastructure support for neighbourhood physical activity. Environment and Planning A, 43, 205-223. [Abstract] A317

Witten, K., & Carroll, P. (2011). Intensification, housing affordability and families: Learning from the Auckland CBD. In K. Witten, W. Abrahamse & K. Stuart (Eds.), Growth Misconduct? Avoiding Sprawl and Improving Urban Intensification in New Zealand (pp. 79-89). Wellington: New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities, University of Otago. SB55

Witten, K., Huakau, J., & Mavoa, S. (2011). Social and recreational travel: the destinations, travel modes and CO2 emissions of New Zealand households. Social Policy Journal of New Zealand, 37, 172-184. [Full text] A279

Carroll, P., Witten, K., & Kearns, R. (2011). Housing Intensification in Auckland New Zealand: Implications for Children and Families. Housing Studies, 26 (3), 353-367. A278

Kearns R, Lewis N, McCreanor T and Witten K (2010). School closures as breaches in the fabric of rural welfare: community perspectives from New Zealand. In: Milbourne P ed. Welfare Reform in Rural Places: Comparative Perspectives. Emerald Publishing Group, Bingley, UK, pp.219-236. SB54

Badland, H., Keam, R., Witten, K., & Kearns, R. (2010). Examining public open spaces by neighborhood deprivation and walkability. Journal of Physical Activity & Health, 7. 818-824. [Abstract] A270

Badland, H., Opit, S., Witten, K., Kearns, R., & Mavoa, S. (2010). Can virtual streetscape audits reliably replace physical streetscape audits? Journal of Urban Health, 87. 1007-1016. [Abstract] A269

Blewden, M., Carroll, P. & Witten, K. (2010). The use of social science research to inform policy development: case studies from recent immigration policy. Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 5. 13-25. [Full text] A257

Witten, K. (2010). Ways of walking: Ethnography and practice on foot [Book Review]. New Zealand Geographer, 66. 91-92. [Full text] A260

Witten, K. & Hammond, K. (2010). What becomes of social science knowledge: New Zealand researchers' experiences of knowledge transfer modes and audiences. Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 5. 1-10. [Full text] A258

Adams, J., Witten, K., and Conway, K. (2009). Community development as health promotion: Evaluating a complex locality-based project in New Zealand. Community Development Journal, 44(2). 140-157. [Abstract] A203

Rose E., Witten K., & McCreanor T. (2009). Transport Related Social Exclusion: New Zealand Evidence. Kotuitui: New Zealand Journal of Social Sciences Online, 4. 191-203. [Full text] A241

Badland, H., Schofield, G., Witten, K., Schluter, P., Mavoa, S., Kearns, R., Hinckson, E., Oliver, M., Kaiwai, H., Jensen, V., Ergler, C., McGrath, L. & McPhee, J. (2009). Understanding the Relationship between Activity and Neighbourhoods (URBAN) Study: research design and methodology. BMC Public Health, 9(224). [Full text] A238

Kearns, R., Lewis, N., McCreanor, T., Witten, K. (2009). 'The status quo is not an option': Community impacts of school closure in South Taranaki, New Zealand. Journal of Rural Studies, 25(1). 131-140. [Abstract] A226

Witten K, Kearns R, McCreanor T, Penney L, Faalau F. (2009). Connecting place and the everyday practices of parenting: insights from Auckland, New Zealand. Environment and Planning A, 41, 2893-910.

Stevenson, A., Pearce, J., Blakely, T., Ivory, V., Witten, K. (2009). Neighbourhoods and health: A review of the New Zealand literature. New Zealand Geographer, 65. 211-221. [Abstract] A240

Greenaway, S., McCreanor, T. & Witten, K. (2008). Reducing CO2 emissions from domestic travel: exploring the social and health impacts. EcoHealth, 5(4). 504-512. [Abstract] A233

Hiscock, R., Pearce, J., Blakely, T. & Witten, K. (2008). Is neighborhood access to health care provision associated with individual-level utilization and satisfaction? Health Services Research, 43(6). 2183-2200. [Abstract] A227

Pearce J, Day P, Witten K. (2008). Neighbourhood provision of food and alcohol retailing and social deprivation in urban New Zealand. Urban Policy and Research, 26. 213-227. [Abstract] A213

Pearce, J., Hiscock, R., Blakely, T. & Witten, K. (2008). A national study of the association between neighbourhood access to fast food outlets and the diet and weight of local residents. Health and Place. [Abstract] A215

Pearce, J., Hiscock, R., Blakely, T. & Witten, K. (2008). The contextual effects of neighbourhood access to supermarkets and convenience stores on individual fruit and vegetable consumption. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 62. 198-201. [Full text] A230

Pearce, J., Witten, K., Hiscock, R. & Blakely, T. (2008). Regional and urban -- rural variations in the association of neighbourhood deprivation with community resource access: a national study. Environment and Planning A, 40. 2469-2489. [Full text, PDF] A223

Witten, K., Hiscock, R. , Pearce, J. & Blakely, T. (2008). Neighbourhood access to open spaces and the physical activity of residents: A national study. Preventive Medicine. [Full text, PDF] A214

Pearce, J., Blakely, T., Witten, K., Bartie, P. (2007). Neighborhood deprivation and access to fast-food retailing: a national study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 32(5). 375-382. [Full text, PDF] A198

Witten, K., McCreanor, T., Kearns, R. (2007). The place of schools in parents' community belonging. New Zealand Geographer, 63. 141-148. [Full text] A202

Greenaway, A. and Witten, K. (2006). Meta-analysing community action projects in Aotearoa New Zealand. Community Development Journal, 41. 143-159. [Abstract] A173

McCreanor, T., Penney, L., Jensen, V., Witten, K., Kearns, R., Moewaka Barnes, H. (2006). 'This is like my comfort zone': Senses of place and belonging within Oruamo / Beachhaven New Zealand. New Zealand Geographer, 62. 196-207. [Abstract] A191

Pearce, J., Witten, K., Bartie, P. (2006). Neighbourhoods and health: a GIS approach to measuring community resource accessibility. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 60. 389-395. [Abstract] A186

Pearce, J., Witten, K., Hiscock, R., Blakely, T. (2006). Are socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods deprived of health-related community resources? International Journal of Epidemiology, 36. 348-355. [Full text] A195

Kearns, R., McCreanor, T., Witten, K. (2005). Linking health, place and healthy communities. Territoris, 5. 189-203. [Abstract] A183

Field, A., Witten, K., Robinson, E., Pledger, M. (2004). Who gets to what? Access to community resources in two New Zealand cities. Urban Policy and Research, 22. 189-205. [Abstract] A160

Witten, K., McCreanor, T., Kearns, R. (2003). The place of neighbourhood in social cohesion: insights from Massey, West Auckland. Urban Policy and Research, 21. 321-338. [Abstract] A154

Witten, K., Kearns, R., Lewis, N., Coster, H. and McCreanor, T. (2003). Educational restructuring from a community view point: A case study of school closure from Invercargill New Zealand. Environment & Planning C: Government and Policy, 21. 203-223.

Witten, K., Exeter, D. and Field, A. (2003). The quality of urban environments: Mapping variation in access to community resources. Urban Studies, 40. 161-177. [Abstract] A144

Witten, K., McCreanor, T., Kearns, R., Ramasubramanian, L. (2001). The impacts of a school closure on neighbourhood social cohesion: narratives from Invercargill, New Zealand. Health & Place, 7. 307-317. [Abstract] A131

Witten, K., Parkes, M. & Ramasubramanian, L. (2000). Participatory Environmental Health Research in Aotearoa/New Zealand: Constraints and Opportunities. Health Education & Behavior, 27. 371-384. [Abstract] A120

 

Books and book chapters

Kearns, R., Carroll, P., Asiasiga, L., & Witten, K. (2015). The variegated nature of play for Auckland children: banal landscapes and the promotion of wellbeing. In J. Horton & B. Evans (Eds.), Play, Recreation, Health and Well Being (in Volume 9 of Skelton, T. (editor-in-chief), Geographies of Children and Young People). Singapore: Springer. SB63

Carroll, P., Witten, K., & Kearns, R. (2015). Kids in the City: everyday life in inner-city Auckland. In C. Freeman & P. Tranter (Eds.), Risk, Protection, Provision and Policy (in Volume 12 of Skelton, T. (editor-in-chief), Geographies of Children and Young People). Singapore: Springer Springer Science+Business Media. SB62

Witten, K., & Carroll, P. (2015). Children's neighborhoods: places of play or spaces of fear? In K. Nairn & P. Kraftl (Eds.), Space, Place and Environment (in Volume 3 of Skelton, T. (editor-in-chief), Geographies of Children and Young People). Singapore: Springer Springer Science+Business Media. SB61

Witten, K., Kearns, R., Carroll, P., Asiasiga, L., & Tava'e Fa'avale, N. (2014). New Zealand parents' understandings of the intergenerational decline in children's independent outdoor activity. In M. Roche, J. Mansvelt, R. Prince, et al. (Eds.), Engaging Geographies: Landscapes, Lifecourses and Mobilities (pp. 155-174). Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. SB60

Carroll, P., Asiasiga, L., Tav’ae, N., & Witten, K. (2013). Kids in the City: Differing Perceptions of One Neighbourhood in Aotearoa / New Zealand. In R. Coles & Z. Millman (Eds.), Landscape, Wellbeing and Environment (pp. 129-146). London: Routledge. SB59

Ergler, C., Kearns, R., & Witten, K. (2013). Managed childhoods: A social history of urban children's play. In N. Higgins & C. Freeman (Eds.), Childhoods: Growing up in Aotearoa/New Zealand, pp.110-125. Dunedin: Otago University Press. SB58

Witten, K., Abrahamse, W., Stuart, K. (Eds.) (2011). Growth Misconduct? Avoiding Sprawl and Improving Urban Intensification in New Zealand. Wellington: New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities, University of Otago.

Witten, K. & Carroll, P. (2011). Intensification, housing affordability and families: Learning from the Auckland CBD. In Witten, K., Abrahamse, W., Stuart, K. (Eds.) Growth Misconduct? Avoiding Sprawl and Improving Urban Intensification in New Zealand. Wellington: New Zealand Centre for Sustainable Cities, University of Otago.

Pearce, J., & Witten, K. (Eds.). (2010). Geographies of Obesity: Environmental Understandings of the Obesity Epidemic. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Kearns R, Lewis N, McCreanor T and Witten K (2010). School closures as breaches in the fabric of rural welfare: community perspectives from New Zealand. In Milbourne, P. (Eds.), Welfare Reform in Rural Places: Comparative Perspectives (pp. 219-236). Bingley, UK: Emerald Publishing Group.

Kearns., R., McCreanor, T., Witten, K. (2006). Healthy communities. In Thompson-Fawcett, M. and Freeman, C. (Eds.), Living Together: Towards Inclusive New Zealand Communities (pp.241-257). Dunedin: Otago University Press. SB42

Witten, K. (2006). Getting places in New Zealand neighbourhoods. In Brebbia, C. and Dolezal, V. (Eds.), Urban Transport XII: Urban Transport and the Environment in the 21st Century (pp. 567-578). Southhampton, Boston: WIT Press. SB38

 

Reports

Carroll, P., & Witten, K. (2010). Community houses in Manukau City - a snapshot. Commissioned by Community Advisory Services Manukau City Council.

Carroll, P., & Witten, K. (2010). Place planning in Auckland City. A report prepared for the Auckland City Council, Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Massey University, January 2010.

Mavoa, S., Witten, K., Pearce, J., Day, P. (2009). Measuring Neighbourhood Walkability in New Zealand Cities. Auckland: Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Massey University. [Full text, PDF]

Carroll, P., Blewden, M. and Witten, K. (2008). Building Research Capability in the Social Sciences (BRCSS): The Social Sciences and Policy-Research Use. .

Carroll, P., Witten, K., Lin, J., & Kaiwai, H. (2008). Living with kids in the CBD: a pilot study. .

Conway, K., Witten, K., Asiasiga, L., Kaiwai, H. (2006). Scoping Study for Waitakere City Council: Massey Community Project. May. Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation (SHORE) & Te Ropu Whariki, Massey University, Auckland.

Adams, J., Witten, K., Woodson, T., Bala, M., and Huckle, T. (2005). A report on the findings of the Ranui Social Cohesion Surveys. May. Auckland: Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Massey University.

Rose, E., Witten, K., McCreanor, T. & Huisman, O. (2005). Validation of Operational Definition of Accessibility. Reduced CO2 from Sustainable Household Travel Research Programme Technical Report, Objective 3 Milestone 4.

Witten, K., McCreanor, T. & Rose, E. (2005). Travel Behaviour, Experience and Choices of Aucklanders: A Qualitative Investigation. Reduced CO2 from Sustainable Household Travel Research Programme Technical Report Objective 1 Milestone 3.

Witten, K., McCreanor, T., Rose, E. (2005). Travel Behaviours, Experiences and Choices of Aucklanders: A Qualitative Investigation. Auckland: Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation & Te Ropu Whariki, Massey University.

Witten, K., Rose, E., McCreanor, T. (2005). Vehicle Fleet Emission Testing: Social and Economic Impact Assessment: Report on Focus Group Discussions March 2005. Prepared for COVEC and the Ministry of Transport. Auckland: Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation & Te Ropu Whariki, Massey University.

Conway, K., Adams, J., and Witten, K. (2003). Evaluation of the Ranui Action Project: Final Report. December. Auckland: Centre for Social and Health Outcomes Research and Evaluation, Massey University.