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      A systematic review of reliability and objective criterion-related validity of physical activity questionnaires

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          Physical inactivity is one of the four leading risk factors for global mortality. Accurate measurement of physical activity (PA) and in particular by physical activity questionnaires (PAQs) remains a challenge. The aim of this paper is to provide an updated systematic review of the reliability and validity characteristics of existing and more recently developed PAQs and to quantitatively compare the performance between existing and newly developed PAQs.

          A literature search of electronic databases was performed for studies assessing reliability and validity data of PAQs using an objective criterion measurement of PA between January 1997 and December 2011. Articles meeting the inclusion criteria were screened and data were extracted to provide a systematic overview of measurement properties. Due to differences in reported outcomes and criterion methods a quantitative meta-analysis was not possible.

          In total, 31 studies testing 34 newly developed PAQs, and 65 studies examining 96 existing PAQs were included. Very few PAQs showed good results on both reliability and validity. Median reliability correlation coefficients were 0.62–0.71 for existing, and 0.74–0.76 for new PAQs. Median validity coefficients ranged from 0.30–0.39 for existing, and from 0.25–0.41 for new PAQs.

          Although the majority of PAQs appear to have acceptable reliability, the validity is moderate at best. Newly developed PAQs do not appear to perform substantially better than existing PAQs in terms of reliability and validity. Future PAQ studies should include measures of absolute validity and the error structure of the instrument.

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          International physical activity questionnaire: 12-country reliability and validity.

          Physical inactivity is a global concern, but diverse physical activity measures in use prevent international comparisons. The International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) was developed as an instrument for cross-national monitoring of physical activity and inactivity. Between 1997 and 1998, an International Consensus Group developed four long and four short forms of the IPAQ instruments (administered by telephone interview or self-administration, with two alternate reference periods, either the "last 7 d" or a "usual week" of recalled physical activity). During 2000, 14 centers from 12 countries collected reliability and/or validity data on at least two of the eight IPAQ instruments. Test-retest repeatability was assessed within the same week. Concurrent (inter-method) validity was assessed at the same administration, and criterion IPAQ validity was assessed against the CSA (now MTI) accelerometer. Spearman's correlation coefficients are reported, based on the total reported physical activity. Overall, the IPAQ questionnaires produced repeatable data (Spearman's rho clustered around 0.8), with comparable data from short and long forms. Criterion validity had a median rho of about 0.30, which was comparable to most other self-report validation studies. The "usual week" and "last 7 d" reference periods performed similarly, and the reliability of telephone administration was similar to the self-administered mode. The IPAQ instruments have acceptable measurement properties, at least as good as other established self-reports. Considering the diverse samples in this study, IPAQ has reasonable measurement properties for monitoring population levels of physical activity among 18- to 65-yr-old adults in diverse settings. The short IPAQ form "last 7 d recall" is recommended for national monitoring and the long form for research requiring more detailed assessment.
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            Physical activity in the United States measured by accelerometer.

            To describe physical activity levels of children (6-11 yr), adolescents (12-19 yr), and adults (20+ yr), using objective data obtained with accelerometers from a representative sample of the U.S. population. These results were obtained from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES), a cross-sectional study of a complex, multistage probability sample of the civilian, noninstitutionalized U.S. population in the United States. Data are described from 6329 participants who provided at least 1 d of accelerometer data and from 4867 participants who provided four or more days of accelerometer data. Males are more physically active than females. Physical activity declines dramatically across age groups between childhood and adolescence and continues to decline with age. For example, 42% of children ages 6-11 yr obtain the recommended 60 min x d(-1) of physical activity, whereas only 8% of adolescents achieve this goal. Among adults, adherence to the recommendation to obtain 30 min x d(-1) of physical activity is less than 5%. Objective and subjective measures of physical activity give qualitatively similar results regarding gender and age patterns of activity. However, adherence to physical activity recommendations according to accelerometer-measured activity is substantially lower than according to self-report. Great care must be taken when interpreting self-reported physical activity in clinical practice, public health program design and evaluation, and epidemiological research.
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              Quality criteria were proposed for measurement properties of health status questionnaires.

              Recently, an increasing number of systematic reviews have been published in which the measurement properties of health status questionnaires are compared. For a meaningful comparison, quality criteria for measurement properties are needed. Our aim was to develop quality criteria for design, methods, and outcomes of studies on the development and evaluation of health status questionnaires. Quality criteria for content validity, internal consistency, criterion validity, construct validity, reproducibility, longitudinal validity, responsiveness, floor and ceiling effects, and interpretability were derived from existing guidelines and consensus within our research group. For each measurement property a criterion was defined for a positive, negative, or indeterminate rating, depending on the design, methods, and outcomes of the validation study. Our criteria make a substantial contribution toward defining explicit quality criteria for measurement properties of health status questionnaires. Our criteria can be used in systematic reviews of health status questionnaires, to detect shortcomings and gaps in knowledge of measurement properties, and to design validation studies. The future challenge will be to refine and complete the criteria and to reach broad consensus, especially on quality criteria for good measurement properties.

                Author and article information

                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act
                The International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
                BioMed Central
                31 August 2012
                : 9
                : 103
                [1 ]Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit, Cambridge, UK
                [2 ]Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
                [3 ]Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Resource centre, Cambridge, UK
                [4 ]Danone Baby Nutrition (Nutricia Ltd), Trowbridge, UK
                [5 ]Department of Sports Medicine, Norwegian School of Sport Sciences, Oslo, Norway
                Copyright ©2012 Helmerhorst et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.



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