Comparison of surveys used to measure physical activity

Brown, Wendy, Bauman, Adrian, Chey, Tien, Trost, Stewart G., & Mummery, Kerry (2004) Comparison of surveys used to measure physical activity. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 28(2), pp. 128-134.

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To compare the level of agreement in results obtained from four physical activity (PA) measurement instruments that are in use in Australia and around the world.


1,280 randomly selected participants answered two sets of PA questions by telephone. 428 answered the Active Australia (AA) and National Health Surveys, 427 answered the AA and CDC Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System surveys (BRFSS), and 425 answered the AA survey and the short International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ).


Among the three pairs of survey items, the difference in mean total PA time was lowest when the AA and NHS items were asked (difference=24) (SE:17) minutes, compared with 144 (SE:21) mins for AA/BRFSS and 406 (SE:27) mins for AA/IPAQ). Correspondingly, prevalence estimates for 'sufficiently active' were similar for AA and NHS (56% and 55% respectively), but about 10% higher when BRFSS data were used, and about 26% higher when the IPAQ items were used, compared with estimates from the AA survey.


The findings clearly demonstrate that there are large differences in reported PA times and hence in prevalence estimates of 'sufficient activity' from these four measures.


It is important to consistently use the same survey for population monitoring purposes. As the AA survey has now been used three times in national surveys, its continued use for population surveys is recommended so that trend data ever a longer period of time can be established.

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ID Code: 72508
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: Physical activity, Public health, Public, Environmental & Occupational Health, Agreement, Physical fitness, Surveys
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-842X.2004.tb00925.x
ISSN: 1467-842X
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 The Public Health Association of Australia Inc
Deposited On: 03 Jun 2014 02:14
Last Modified: 18 Jun 2014 23:05

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