A guiding methodology for “urban physical examination”: Indicator checklist, benchmark setting and empirical study

Hongman He, Yitian Ren (Corresponding), Liyin Shen, Jun Xiao, Yueyan Lai, Yi Yang, Lingyu Zhang

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Fast urbanisation development has brought rampant sprawl of cities, where various urban diseases have been emerging. Therefore, how to effectively understand the health status of a city, diagnose root causes of urban diseases, and implement proper policy measures and effective actions to address these diseases have become critical issues for achieving urban sustainability. Via regarding city as an organic system, from the perspective of sustainable urban development, this study proposes a generic guiding methodology of urban physical examination. The guiding methodology provides a set of indicator checklist, indicator benchmark setting approaches, and urban physical examination principles, as guidelines for urban governors to dynamically investigate the healthy status of their cities, so that potential aspects of urban diseases can be identified. An empirical study taking Chongqing Municipality in Southwest China is exemplified to demonstrate the validity of the proposed methodology. The results demonstrate that, 1) sustainable development perspective-based urban physical examination methodology is effective in investigating urban health status, capturing evolving trend of urban health status, and diagnosing potential urban diseases; 2) In Chongqing, significant urban diseases across urban social, economic and environmental facets have been identified, and targeted “treatment” has been tailored to help tackle these urban diseases and improve urban healthy status to realise the mission of sustainable and healthy urban development.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104835
Number of pages16
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Issue number104835
Early online date30 Jul 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2023


  • Urban physical examination
  • Guiding methodology
  • Indicator checklist
  • Indicator benchmark setting
  • Sustainable urban development
  • Healthy cities


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