Feasibility of using global positioning systems (GPS) with diverse urban adults: before and after data on perceived acceptability, barriers, and ease of use

J Phys Act Health. 2012 Sep;9(7):924-34. doi: 10.1123/jpah.9.7.924. Epub 2011 Sep 13.


Background: Global positioning systems (GPS) have emerged as a research tool to better understand environmental influences on physical activity. This study examined the feasibility of using GPS in terms of perceived acceptability, barriers, and ease of use in a racially/ethnically diverse sample of lower socioeconomic position (SEP).

Methods: Data were from 2 pilot studies involving a total of 170 African American, Hispanic, and White urban adults with a mean (standard deviation) age of 47.8 (±13.1) years. Participants wore a GPS for up to 7 days. They answered questions about GPS acceptability, barriers (wear-related concerns), and ease of use before and after wearing the GPS.

Results: We found high ratings of GPS acceptability and ease of use and low levels of wear-related concerns, which were maintained after data collection. While most were comfortable with their movements being tracked, older participants (P < .05) and African Americans (P < .05) reported lower comfort levels. Participants who were younger, with higher education, and low incomes were more likely to indicate that the GPS made the study more interesting (P < .05). Participants described technical and wear-related problems, but few concerns related to safety, loss, or appearance.

Conclusions: Use of GPS was feasible in this racially/ethnically diverse, lower SEP sample.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Data Collection / instrumentation*
  • Environment
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Geographic Information Systems / instrumentation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Perception*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Poverty Areas
  • Racial Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population*