The Physical Activity Vital Sign: A Primary Care Tool to Guide Counseling for Obesity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Only 25% of US adults achieve adequate physical activity (PA). Obtaining a PA history is an appropriate first step when evaluating this behavior. The Physical Activity Vital Sign (PAVS) is a clinical tool designed to screen for PA in adults.


To determine how responses to the PAVS questions associate with BMI, overweight, and obesity, we performed a cross-sectional study utilizing the PAVS, and measured height and weight. Data were collected from adults at 2 clinics within the Utah Health Research Network.


Adjusting for demographic factors, BMI decreased 0.91 units for every reported day of PA during a typical week (P < .001), and the odds of obesity was significantly decreased by 0.73 for every day of PA reported in a typical week, (P = .001).


Response to the PAVS question of typical behavior is highly correlated with BMI. Although response to the PAVS question of behavior last week is not correlated, this question may prompt accurate recall to the typical week question and help guide patient counseling. Our results support the construct validity for the use of the PAVS as a clinical screening tool and suggest the need for additional research to characterize the properties of the PAVS.

The authors are with the Dept of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT.