Online Program

Physical activity measurement in health promotion and education research

Monday, November 4, 2013

Adam Knowlden, CHES, MBA, MS, Ph.D., Department of Health Science, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL
Brad Wilson, PhD, Health Promotion and Education, The University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Manoj Sharma, PhD, Health Promotion & Education, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
Issues: The accurate and reliable measurement of physical activity (PA) is central to health education and promotion research and evaluation practice. From a research perspective, PA measurement allows researchers to model the correlates and determinants of PA. In terms of evaluation, measurement allows researchers to gauge the efficacy of interventions designed to increase or sustain PA. There are a wide variety of both direct and indirect PA monitoring techniques available to researchers and practitioners. The purpose of this research was to review methods of monitoring physical activity over time and identify best practices for application. Description: Measurement techniques analyzed included doubly labeled water, indirect calorimetry, motion sensors, global positioning system, global geographic information systems, heart rate monitors, direct observation, activity logs, and self-report questionnaires. Strengths and weaknesses, application, cost of the data collection and the accuracy of the resulting data was elucidated. Lessons Learned: PA is an important domain in health promotion and health education research. Accurate and reliable measurement of PA is critical to increasing the efficacy of health education interventions. Recommendations: Ultimately, the research questions that underlie an intervention should drive the type of measurement tool researchers employ. In making a final decision, expertise, resources, and funding of the program must be considered. Even the most advanced monitoring tools have limitations. Researchers must be aware of the limitations of the measurement they apply and make concerted efforts to reduce any associated biases or weaknesses. Recommendations and a flow chart for guiding decision making are provided.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Program planning
Public health or related education

Learning Objectives:
Compare nine methods for measuring physical activity in health promotion and education research. Identify strengths and weaknesses of nine methods for measuring physical activity in health promotion and education research. Describe factors for guiding decision making when determining which method of physical activity measure to apply in research or practice.

Keyword(s): Physical Activity, Public Health Education

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have conceptualized the study, collected the data, and analyzed the data.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.