Cross-cultural, age and gender validation of a computerised questionnaire measuring personal, social and environmental associations with children's physical activity: the European Youth Heart Study

Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2008 May 19;5:29. doi: 10.1186/1479-5868-5-29.


Objective: This study investigated the construct validity of a computerised self-assessment tool to measure psychological, social and environmental influences of young peoples' physical activity. First, analyses of the measure's factorial validity, invariance across, age, gender culture were conducted. Second, the ability of the derived subscales to discriminate between children representing different levels of self-reported and objectively measured physical activity behaviour was examined.

Methods: Participants were 1875 boys and 2078 girls (total = 3958) aged 9-10 years (n = 1955, mean age = 9.65 +/- 0.42) and 15-16 years (n = 2003, mean age = 15.49 +/- 0.50) from four European countries in Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe who took part in the European Youth Heart Study (EYHS). Children completed the computerised self-assessment tool with support from the researcher if requested. Self-reported exercise and an objective measure of physical activity (Actigraph model 7164) were used for additional construct validation purposes.

Results: Overall evidence of good fit indicating satisfactory factorial validity and cross-cultural, age and gender invariance for 3 of the 4 measurement models were obtained. The majority of measures were also significantly different for those with high versus low levels of physical activity.

Conclusion: Overall, the computerised questionnaire holds promise for use cross-culturally with male and female children and adolescents to measure perceived personal, social and environmental influences on physical activity. Further development of the measures pertaining to perceived environmental influences seems warranted.