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      Measurement of sedentary behaviour in population health surveys: a review and recommendations


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          The purpose of this review was to determine the most valid and reliable questions for targeting key modes of sedentary behaviour (SB) in a broad range of national and international health surveillance surveys. This was done by reviewing the SB modules currently used in population health surveys, as well as examining SB questionnaires that have performed well in psychometric testing.


          Health surveillance surveys were identified via scoping review and contact with experts in the field. Previous systematic reviews provided psychometric information on pediatric questionnaires. A comprehensive search of four bibliographic databases was used to identify studies reporting psychometric information for adult questionnaires. Only surveys/studies published/used in English or French were included.


          The review identified a total of 16 pediatric and 18 adult national/international surveys assessing SB, few of which have undergone psychometric testing. Fourteen pediatric and 35 adult questionnaires with psychometric information were included. While reliability was generally good to excellent for questions targeting key modes of SB, validity was poor to moderate, and reported much less frequently. The most valid and reliable questions targeting specific modes of SB were combined to create a single questionnaire targeting key modes of SB.


          Our results highlight the importance of including SB questions in survey modules that are adaptable, able to assess various modes of SB, and that exhibit adequate reliability and validity. Future research could investigate the psychometric properties of the module we have proposed in this paper, as well as other questionnaires currently used in national and international population health surveys.

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          Most cited references37

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          Sedentary behaviors and subsequent health outcomes in adults a systematic review of longitudinal studies, 1996-2011.

          To systematically review and provide an informative synthesis of findings from longitudinal studies published since 1996 reporting on relationships between self-reported sedentary behavior and device-based measures of sedentary time with health-related outcomes in adults. Studies published between 1996 and January 2011 were identified by examining existing literature reviews and by systematic searches in Web of Science, MEDLINE, PubMed, and PsycINFO. English-written articles were selected according to study design, targeted behavior, and health outcome. Forty-eight articles met the inclusion criteria; of these, 46 incorporated self-reported measures including total sitting time; TV viewing time only; TV viewing time and other screen-time behaviors; and TV viewing time plus other sedentary behaviors. Findings indicate a consistent relationship of self-reported sedentary behavior with mortality and with weight gain from childhood to the adult years. However, findings were mixed for associations with disease incidence, weight gain during adulthood, and cardiometabolic risk. Of the three studies that used device-based measures of sedentary time, one showed that markers of obesity predicted sedentary time, whereas inconclusive findings have been observed for markers of insulin resistance. There is a growing body of evidence that sedentary behavior may be a distinct risk factor, independent of physical activity, for multiple adverse health outcomes in adults. Prospective studies using device-based measures are required to provide a clearer understanding of the impact of sedentary time on health outcomes. Copyright © 2011 American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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            Physical activity of Canadian adults: accelerometer results from the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey.

            Rising obesity rates and declining fitness levels have increased interest in understanding what underlies these trends. This article presents the first directly measured data on physical activity and sedentary behaviour on a nationally representative sample of Canadians aged 20 to 79 years. Data are from the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey (CHMS). Physical activity was measured using accelerometry. Data are presented as time spent in sedentary, light, moderate and vigorous intensity movement as well as steps accumulated per day. An estimated 15% of Canadian adults accumulate 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) per week; 5% accumulate 150 minutes per week as at least 30 minutes of MVPA on 5 or more days a week. Men are more active than women and MVPA declines with increasing age and adiposity. Canadian adults are sedentary for approximately 9.5 hours per day (69% of waking hours). Men accumulate an average of 9,500 steps per day and women, 8,400 steps per day. The 10,000-steps-per-day target is achieved by 35% of adults. Before the CHMS, objective measures of physical activity and sedentary behaviour were not available for a representative sample of Canadians. The findings indicate that 85% of adults are not active enough to meet Canada's new physical activity recommendation.
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              Validity of the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) in assessing levels and change in moderate-vigorous physical activity and sedentary behaviour

              Background Feasible, cost-effective instruments are required for the surveillance of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and sedentary behaviour (SB) and to assess the effects of interventions. However, the evidence base for the validity and reliability of the World Health Organisation-endorsed Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) is limited. We aimed to assess the validity of the GPAQ, compared to accelerometer data in measuring and assessing change in MVPA and SB. Methods Participants (n = 101) were selected randomly from an on-going research study, stratified by level of physical activity (low, moderate or highly active, based on the GPAQ) and sex. Participants wore an accelerometer (Actigraph GT3X) for seven days and completed a GPAQ on Day 7. This protocol was repeated for a random sub-sample at a second time point, 3–6 months later. Analysis involved Wilcoxon-signed rank tests for differences in measures, Bland-Altman analysis for the agreement between measures for median MVPA and SB mins/day, and Spearman’s rho coefficient for criterion validity and extent of change. Results 95 participants completed baseline measurements (44 females, 51 males; mean age 44 years, (SD 14); measurements of change were calculated for 41 (21 females, 20 males; mean age 46 years, (SD 14). There was moderate agreement between GPAQ and accelerometer for MVPA mins/day (r = 0.48) and poor agreement for SB (r = 0.19). The absolute mean difference (self-report minus accelerometer) for MVPA was −0.8 mins/day and 348.7 mins/day for SB; and negative bias was found to exist, with those people who were more physically active over-reporting their level of MVPA: those who were more sedentary were less likely to under-report their level of SB. Results for agreement in change over time showed moderate correlation (r = 0.52, p = 0.12) for MVPA and poor correlation for SB (r = −0.024, p = 0.916). Conclusions Levels of agreement with objective measurements indicate the GPAQ is a valid measure of MVPA and change in MVPA but is a less valid measure of current levels and change in SB. Thus, GPAQ appears to be an appropriate measure for assessing the effectiveness of interventions to promote MVPA.

                Author and article information

                PeerJ Inc. (San Francisco, USA )
                11 December 2017
                : 5
                : e4130
                [1 ]Division of Prevention and Rehabilitation, University of Ottawa Heart Institute , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                [2 ]Health Analysis Division, Statistics Canada , Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
                [3 ]Department of Applied Human Sciences, University of Prince Edward Island , Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada
                [4 ] Current affiliation:  Centre for Surveillance and Applied Research, Public Health Agency of Canada
                ©2017 Prince et al.

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.

                : 26 June 2017
                : 14 November 2017
                Funded by: Public Health Agency of Canada
                Funded by: Jeanne and J.-Louis Lévesque Research Professorship in Nutrisciences and Health
                This work was supported by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Travis Saunders is supported by the Jeanne and J.-Louis Lévesque Research Professorship in Nutrisciences and Health. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Public Health

                validity,survey,questionnaire,sedentary behaviour,reliability


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