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Barbara Sternfeld and Lisa Goldman-Rosas

Context:

Numerous instruments to measure self-reported physical activity (PA) exist, but there is little guidance for determining the most appropriate choice.

Objective:

To provide a systematic framework for researchers and practitioners to select a self-reported PA instrument.

Process:

The framework consists of 2 components: a series of questions and a database of instruments. The questions encourage users to think critically about their specific needs and to appreciate the strengths and limitations of the available options. Instruments for the database were identified through existing literature and expert opinion.

Findings:

Ten questions, ranging from study aim and study design to target population and logistical consideration, guide the researcher or practitioner in defining the criteria for an appropriate PA instruments for a given situation. No one question on its own determines the optimal choice, but taken together, they narrow the potential field. The database currently includes 38 different self-reported PA instruments, characterized by 18 different parameters.

Conclusions:

The series of questions presented here, in conjunction with a searchable database of self-report PA instruments, provides a needed step toward the development of guiding principles and good practices for researchers and practitioners to follow in making an informed selection of a self-reported PA instrument.

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Richard P. Troiano, Kelley K. Pettee Gabriel, Gregory J. Welk, Neville Owen and Barbara Sternfeld

Context:

Advances in device-based measures have led researchers to question the value of reported measures of physical activity or sedentary behavior. The premise of the Workshop on Measurement of Active and Sedentary Behaviors: Closing the Gaps in Self-Report Methods, held in July 2010, was that assessment of behavior by self-report is a valuable approach.

Objective:

To provide suggestions to optimize the value of reported physical activity and sedentary behavior, we 1) discuss the constructs that devices and reports of behavior can measure, 2) develop a framework to help guide decision-making about the best approach to physical activity and sedentary behavior assessment in a given situation, and 3) address the potential for combining reported behavior methods with device-based monitoring to enhance both approaches.

Process:

After participation in a workshop breakout session, coauthors summarized the ideas presented and reached consensus on the material presented here.

Conclusions:

To select appropriate physical activity assessment methods and correctly interpret the measures obtained, researchers should carefully consider the purpose for assessment, physical activity constructs of interest, characteristics of the population and measurement tool, and the theoretical link between the exposure and outcome of interest.