New insights into discrepancies between self-reported and accelerometer-measured moderate to vigorous physical activity among women - the mPED trial

BMC Public Health. 2016 Aug 11;16(1):761. doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3348-7.


Background: The aims of this report were 1) to describe the duration of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) and the proportion of participants meeting the recommended criterion of at least 150 min of MVPA per week as measured by the 7 Day Physical Activity Recall Questionnaire (7D-PAR) and accelerometer among women who were enrolled in the mPED trial; 2) to assess the level of agreement of the two measures using a Bland-Altman plot; and 3) to describe the positive and negative predictive values (PPV and NPV, respectively) of meeting the guidelines by calculating the percentage of women meeting the physical activity recommendation by the 7D-PAR who also met this recommendation based on data from the accelerometer.

Methods: Baseline data on duration of MVPA from the mPED trial were analyzed for 215 women. Among the women who met the recommended criterion by the 7D-PAR (self-report), we calculated the proportion of individuals who also met it by the accelerometer (objective measure). A Bland Altman Plot was used to assess concordance between the two measures.

Results: The mean age was 52.4 (±11.2) years; 54.4 % were white; and 48.8 % were single or divorced. While median MVPA was 160 min/week by the 7D-PAR, it was only 24 min/week in the accelerometer. A total of 117 women met the 150-min criterion by the 7D-PAR. Of these, only 18 also met the criterion by the objective measure (PPV 15.4 %, 95 % CI 9.4-23.2 %). Among the 98 women who did not meet the criterion by the 7D-PAR, none met it by the accelerometer (NPV 100 %). A Bland Altman plot showed the mean difference of +145 min between the two measures with a 95 % limit of agreement at + 471 to -181 min.

Conclusions: The large discrepancy between the self-reported and objective measures of MVPA meeting the 150-min criterion suggests that self-reported physical activity measures should be used with caution in intervention studies. While our data suggest that self-report could be used to identify a physically inactive sample, it would be likely to over-estimate the proportions of women who become active in one or both arms of trials of interventions promoting MVPA.

Trial registration: NCT01280812.

Keywords: Accelerometer; Moderate to vigorous physical activity; Physical activity; Randomized controlled trial; Self-reported questionnaire; Women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Accelerometry / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Report*
  • Time Factors

Associated data