Validity of a short questionnaire to assess physical activity in 10 European countries

Tricia Peters, Soren Brage, Kate Westgate, Paul W. Franks, Anna Gradmark, Maria Jose Tormo Diaz, Jose Maria Huerta, Benedetta Bendinelli, Mattheaus Vigl, Heiner Boeing, Wanda Wendel-Vos, Annemieke Spijkerman, Kristin Benjaminsen-Borch, Elisavet Valanou, Blandine De Lauzon Guillain, Françoise Clavel-Chapelon, Stephen Sharp, Nicola Kerrison, Claudia Langenberg, Larraitz ArriolaAurelio Barricarte, Carlos Gonzales, Sara Grioni, Rudolf Kaaks, Timothy Key, Kay Tee Khaw, Anne May, Peter Nilsson, Teresa Norat, Kim Overvad, Domenico Palli, Salvatore Panico, Jose Ramón Quirós, Fulvio Ricceri, Maria Jose Sanchez, Nadia Slimani, Anne Tjonneland, Rosario Tumino, Edith Feskens, Elio Riboli, Ulf Ekelund, Nick Wareham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To accurately examine associations of physical activity (PA) with disease outcomes, a valid method of assessing free-living activity is required. We examined the validity of a brief PA questionnaire (PAQ) used in the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC). PA energy expenditure (PAEE) and time spent in moderate and vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was measured in 1,941 healthy individuals from 10 European countries using individually-calibrated combined heart-rate and movement sensing. Participants also completed the short EPIC-PAQ, which refers to past year's activity. Pearson (r) and Spearman (σ) correlation coefficients were calculated for each country, and random effects meta-analysis was used to calculate the combined correlation across countries to estimate the validity of two previously- and one newly-derived ordered, categorical PA indices ("Cambridge index", "total PA index", and "recreational index") that categorized individuals as inactive, moderately inactive, moderately active, or active. The strongest associations with PAEE and MVPA were observed for the Cambridge index (r = 0.33 and r = 0.25, respectively). No significant heterogeneity by country was observed for this index (I2 = 36.3%, P = 0.12; I2 = 0.0%, P = 0.85), whereas heterogeneity was suggested for other indices (I2 > 48%, P <0.05, I2 > 47%, P <0.05). PAEE increased linearly across self-reported PA categories (P for trend

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15-25
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • Accelerometry
  • Physical activity
  • Questionnaire
  • Self-report
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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