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Barbara Sternfeld and Lisa Goldman-Rosas


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


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


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.


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.


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.