Assessing Walking Activity in Older Adults: Development and Validation of a Novel Computer-Animated Assessment Tool

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2015 Dec;70(12):1555-61. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glv101. Epub 2015 Aug 10.


Background: Assessing volume of physical activity (PA) in older adults is critical to understanding the role that PA has on health outcomes and the effectiveness of treatment interventions to increase PA. The purpose of this study was to investigate the psychometric properties of a novel computer-animated self-report questionnaire designed to assess walking activity of older adults: the Mobility Assessment Tool for Walking--the MAT-W.

Methods: We recruited 249 older adults (66.9±4.7 years, 71% female, 32% black) with cardiovascular disease and/or metabolic syndrome as part of the Cooperative Lifestyle Intervention Program-II study. Participants completed the MAT-W at baseline and after 6 months of a walking and weight loss (n = 78) or weight loss only (n = 69) intervention. Test-retest reliability was assessed in 31 participants. Walking speed at usual and fast pace was measured using a GAITRite mat, and 7-day accelerometry data were collected at baseline and 6 months. The mCHAMPS5, a modified version of a widely used self-report PA questionnaire, was completed at baseline.

Results: The test-retest reliability of MAT-W was excellent (intraclass correlation coefficient > .85). The MAT-W was correlated with mCHAMPS5 (Spearman r = .66, p < .001) and moderate/vigorous levels of PA as assessed by accelerometry (Spearman r = .65, p < .001) and was responsive to an intervention-induced change in PA at 6 months when comparing the Cooperative Lifestyle Intervention Program-II walking and weight loss group with the weight loss only group (p < .001).

Conclusion: The MAT-W is a brief, reliable, and valid tool to assess PA and has promise for the assessment of walking behavior in older adults under free-living conditions.

Keywords: Exercise; Mobility; Physical activity assessment; Self-report measure.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Psychometrics
  • Self Report
  • Software*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • Walking*