Calibration of self-report tools for physical activity research: The Physical Activity Questionnaire (PAQ)

Pedro F. Saint-Maurice, Gregory J. Welk, Nicholas K. Beyler, Roderick T. Bartee, Kate A. Heelan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Scopus citations


Background: The utility of self-report measures of physical activity (PA) in youth can be greatly enhanced by calibrating self-report output against objectively measured PA data.This study demonstrates the potential of calibrating self-report output against objectively measured physical activity (PA) in youth by using a commonly used self-report tool called the Physical Activity Questionnaire (PAQ). Methods. A total of 148 participants (grades 4 through 12) from 9 schools (during the 2009-2010 school year) wore an Actigraph accelerometer for 7 days and then completed the PAQ. Multiple linear regression modeling was used on 70% of the available sample to develop a calibration equation and this was cross validated on an independent sample of participants (30% of sample). Results: A calibration model with age, gender, and PAQ scores explained 40% of the variance in values for the percentage of time in moderate-to-vigorous PA (%MVPA) measured from the accelerometers (%MVPA = 14.56 - (sex*0.98) - (0.84*age) + (1.01*PAQ)). When tested on an independent, hold-out sample, the model estimated %MVPA values that were highly correlated with the recorded accelerometer values (r =.63) and there was no significant difference between the estimated and recorded activity values (mean diff. = 25.3 ± 18.1 min; p =.17). Conclusions: These results suggest that the calibrated PAQ may be a valid alternative tool to activity monitoring instruments for estimating %MVPA in groups of youth.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number461
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 16 2014



  • Accelerometry
  • Measurement
  • Public health
  • Youth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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