Introduction: The Rapid Assessment of Physical Activity (RAPA) was developed to provide an easily administered and interpreted means of assessing levels of physical activity among adults older than 50 years.
Methods: A systematic review of the literature, a survey of geriatricians, focus groups, and cognitive debriefings with older adults were conducted, and an expert panel was convened. From these procedures, a nine-item questionnaire assessing strength, flexibility, and level and intensity of physical activity was developed. Among a cohort of 115 older adults (mean age, 73.3 years; age range, 51-92 years), half of whom were regular exercisers (55%), the screening performance of three short self-report physical activity questionnaires--the RAPA, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) physical activity questions, and the Patient-centered Assessment and Counseling for Exercise (PACE)--was compared with the Community Healthy Activities Model Program for Seniors (CHAMPS) as the criterion.
Results: Compared with the BRFSS and the PACE, the RAPA was more positively correlated with the CHAMPS moderate caloric expenditure (r = 0.54 for RAPA, r = 0.40 for BRFSS, and r = 0.44 for PACE) and showed as good or better sensitivity (81%), positive predictive value (77%), and negative predictive value (75%) as the other tools. Specificity, sensitivity, and positive predictive value of the questions on flexibility and strength training were in the 80% range, except for specificity of flexibility questions (62%). Mean caloric expenditure per week calculated from the CHAMPS was compared between those who did and those who did not meet minimum recommendations for moderate or vigorous physical activity based on these self-report questionnaires. The RAPA outperformed the PACE and the BRFSS.
Conclusion: The RAPA is an easy-to-use, valid measure of physical activity for use in clinical practice with older adults.