Sources of validity evidence needed with self-report measures of physical activity

J Phys Act Health. 2012 Jan;9 Suppl 1:S44-55. doi: 10.1123/jpah.9.s1.s44.


Background: Over the years, self-report measures of physical activity (PA) have been employed in applications for which their use was not supported by the validity evidence.

Methods: To address this concern this paper 1) provided an overview of the sources of validity evidence that can be assessed with self-report measures of PA, 2) discussed the validity evidence needed to support the use of self-report in certain applications, and 3) conducted a case review of the 7-day PA Recall (7-d PAR).

Results: This paper discussed 5 sources of validity evidence, those based on: test content; response processes; behavioral stability; relations with other variables; and sensitivity to change. The evidence needed to use self-report measures of PA in epidemiological, surveillance, and intervention studies was presented. These concepts were applied to a case review of the 7-d PAR. The review highlighted the utility of the 7-d PAR to produce valid rankings. Initial support, albeit weaker, for using the 7-d PAR to detect relative change in PA behavior was found.

Conclusion: Overall, self-report measures can validly rank PA behavior but they cannot adequately quantify PA. There is a need to improve the accuracy of self-report measures of PA to provide unbiased estimates of PA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Energy Metabolism
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Humans
  • Mental Recall*
  • Motor Activity / physiology*
  • Psychometrics*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sedentary Behavior
  • Self Report*
  • Validation Studies as Topic*