Purpose Gathering contextual information (i.e., location and purpose) about active and sedentary behaviors is an advantage of self-report tools such as previous day recalls (PDR). However, the validity of PDR’s for measuring context has not been empirically tested. The purpose of this paper was to compare PDR estimates of location and purpose to direct observation (DO). Methods Fifteen adult (18–75 y) and 15 adolescent (12–17 y) participants were directly observed during at least one segment of the day (i.e., morning, afternoon or evening). Participants completed their normal daily routine while trained observers recorded the location (i.e., home, community, work/school), purpose (e.g., leisure, transportation) and whether the behavior was sedentary or active. The day following the observation, participants completed an unannounced PDR. Estimates of time in each context were compared between PDR and DO. Intra-class correlations (ICC), percent agreement and Kappa statistics were calculated. Results For adults, percent agreement was 85% or greater for each location and ICC values ranged from 0.71 to 0.96. The PDR-reported purpose of adults’ behaviors were highly correlated with DO for household activities and work (ICCs of 0.84 and 0.88, respectively). Transportation was not significantly correlated with DO (ICC = -0.08). For adolescents, reported classification of activity location was 80.8% or greater. The ICCs for purpose of adolescents’ behaviors ranged from 0.46 to 0.78. Participants were most accurate in classifying the location and purpose of the behaviors in which they spent the most time. Conclusions This study suggests that adults and adolescents can accurately report where and why they spend time in behaviors using a PDR. This information on behavioral context is essential for translating the evidence for specific behavior-disease associations to health interventions and public policy.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/patty_freedson/22/