Occupational Physical Activity: Reliability and Comparison of Activity Levels

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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In 2001, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) included a new occupational physical activity (PA) question. This article evaluates the reliability of this survey question.


Forty-six subjects were followed for 3 wk, answered 3 PA surveys by telephone, and completed daily PA logs for 1 wk. Kappa statistics determined the reliability of occupational activities (sitting/standing, walking, and heavy lifting). A descriptive analysis compared the time in specific occupational activities.


Eighty percent of the respondents reported “mostly sitting or standing” at work; and test–retest reliability was moderate (k = 0.40 to 0.45). The occupationally inactive sat/stood for 85% (mean hours = 5.6) of the workday, whereas the occupationally active sat/stood for 53% (mean hours = 3.9) of the workday.


The BRFSS occupational activity question has moderate reliability, distinguishes between occupationally active and inactive persons, and can be used in surveillance systems to estimate adult occupational PA.

Yore, Ham, Jones, and Kohl are with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30341. Ainsworth and Macera are with San Diego State University, San Diego CA 92182-4162.