A Novel Mixed Methods Approach to Assess Children’s Sedentary Behaviors

in Journal for the Measurement of Physical Behaviour
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  • 1 Liverpool John Moores University
  • 2 University of Salford
  • 3 Edge Hill University
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Purpose: Accurately measuring sedentary behavior (SB) in children is challenging by virtue of its complex nature. While self-report questionnaires are susceptible to recall errors, accelerometer data lacks contextual information. This study aimed to explore the efficacy of using accelerometry combined with the Digitising Children’s Data Collection (DCDC) for Health application (app), to capture SB comprehensively. Methods: 74 children (9–10 years old) wore ActiGraph GT9X accelerometers for 7 days. Each received a SAMSUNG Galaxy Tab4 (SM-T230) tablet, with the DCDC app installed and a specially designed sedentary behavior study downloaded. The app uses four data collection tools: 1) Questionnaire, 2) Take a photograph, 3) Draw a picture, and 4) Record my voice. Children self-reported their SB daily. Accelerometer data were analyzed using R-package GGIR. App data were downloaded and individual participant profiles created. SBs reported were grouped into categories and reported as frequencies. Results: Participants spent, on average, 629 min (i.e., 73% of their waking time) sedentary. App data revealed most of their out-of-school SB consisted of screen time (112 photos, 114 drawings, and screen time mentioned 135 times during voice recordings). Playing with toys, reading, arts and crafts, and homework were also reported across all four data capturing tools on the app. On an individual level, data from the app often explained irregular patterns in physical activity and SB observed in accelerometer data. Conclusion: This mixed methods approach to assessing SB adds context to accelerometer data, providing researchers with information needed for intervention design.

Hurter, Knowles, and Boddy are with the Physical Activity Exchange, Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Cooper-Ryan is with the School of Health Sciences, University of Salford, Salford, United Kingdom. Porcellato is with the Public Health Institute, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, United Kingdom. Fairclough is with the Department of Sport and Physical Activity, Edge Hill University, Ormskirk, United Kingdom.

Hurter (L.hurter@2016.ljmu.ac.uk) is corresponding author.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplemental Table S1 (PDF 160 KB)
    • Supplemental Table S2 (PDF 165 KB)
    • Supplemental Table S3 (PDF 94 KB)