Comparison of the activPAL CREA and VANE Algorithms for Characterization of Posture and Activity in Free-Living Adults

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Alexander H.K. Montoye Integrative Physiology and Health Science Department, Alma College, Alma, MI, USA

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Joseph D. Vondrasek Integrative Physiology and Health Science Department, Alma College, Alma, MI, USA

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Sylvia E. Neph Integrative Physiology and Health Science Department, Alma College, Alma, MI, USA

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Neil Basu Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

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Lorna Paul School of Health and Life Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, United Kingdom

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Eva-Maria Bachmair Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

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Kristian Stefanov Institute of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

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Stuart R. Gray Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, BHF Glasgow Cardiovascular Research Centre, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom

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Background: The activPAL accelerometer is used widely for assessment of free-living activity and postural data. Two algorithms, VANE (traditional) and CREA (new), are available to analyze activPAL data, but the comparability of metrics derived from these algorithms is unknown. Purpose: To determine the comparability of physical activity and sedentary behavior metrics from activPAL’s VANE and CREA algorithms. Methods: Individuals enrolled in the LIFT trial (n = 354) wore an activPAL accelerometer on the right thigh continuously for 7 days on four occasions, resulting in 5,851 valid days of data for analysis. Daily data were downloaded in the PALbatch software using the VANE and CREA algorithms. Correlations, mean absolute percentage error, effect sizes (ES), and equivalence (within 3%) were calculated to evaluate comparability of the algorithms. Results: Steps, activity score, stepping time, bouts of stepping, and upright time metrics were statistically equivalent, highly correlated (r ≥ .98), and had small mean absolute percentage errors (≤2.5%) and trivial ES (ES < 0.07) between algorithms. Stepping bouts also had good comparability. Conversely, sedentary-upright and upright-sedentary transitions and bouts of sitting were not equivalent, with large mean absolute percentage differences (17.4%–141.3%) and small to very large ES (ES = 0.45–3.80) between algorithms. Conclusions: Stepping and upright metrics are highly comparable between activPAL’s VANE and CREA algorithms, but sitting metrics had large differences as the VANE algorithm does not capture nonwear or differentiate between sitting and lying down. Researchers using the activPAL should explicitly describe the analytic algorithms used in their work to facilitate data pooling and comparability across studies.

Montoye (montoyeah@alma.edu) is corresponding author, https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0665-8228.

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