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Louise C. Mâsse and Judith E. de Niet

Background:

Over the years, self-report measures of physical activity (PA) have been employed in applications for which their use was not supported by the validity evidence.

Methods:

To address this concern this paper 1) provided an overview of the sources of validity evidence that can be assessed with self-report measures of PA, 2) discussed the validity evidence needed to support the use of self-report in certain applications, and 3) conducted a case review of the 7-day PA Recall (7-d PAR).

Results:

This paper discussed 5 sources of validity evidence, those based on: test content; response processes; behavioral stability; relations with other variables; and sensitivity to change. The evidence needed to use self-report measures of PA in epidemiological, surveillance, and intervention studies was presented. These concepts were applied to a case review of the 7-d PAR. The review highlighted the utility of the 7-d PAR to produce valid rankings. Initial support, albeit weaker, for using the 7-d PAR to detect relative change in PA behavior was found.

Conclusion:

Overall, self-report measures can validly rank PA behavior but they cannot adequately quantify PA. There is a need to improve the accuracy of self-report measures of PA to provide unbiased estimates of PA.