Reported Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior: Why Do You Ask?

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

Troiano is with the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MA. Pettee Gabriel is with the Dept of Epidemiology, Human Genetics, and Environmental Sciences, University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin, TX. Welk is with the Dept of Health and Human Performance, Iowa State University, Ames, IA. Owen is with the Dept of Population Health, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Sternfeld is with the Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente, Oakland, CA.

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