Research Study Abstract

Concurrent Validity of a Parental-Report Questionnaire to Assess Preschoolers’ Physical Activity

  • Presented on 2011

Introduction The interest in physical activity (PA) to prevent pediatric obesity has increased during the past decade. However, to start with obesity preventative efforts, adequate measurements of PA are needed. Although accelerometers have been put forward as an adequate method to assess preschoolers’ PA, survey measures of PA can be an interesting alternative because they have the ability to provide contextual information, are inexpensive and less time-consuming. A self-report measure of PA is impossible in preschoolers but a standardized validated proxy-report questionnaire to assess preschoolers’ PA is currently lacking [1]. Therefore, this study aimed to compare an objective measure with a parental-report measure of preschoolers’ PA.

Methods PA was objectively assessed in 198 Belgian preschoolers (3-6 year) over 2 weekend and 2 weekdays using the GT1M ActiGraph. Concurrently, parents filled out a questionnaire and reported on their preschoolers’ PA during a usual week. Outcomes of the questionnaire were daily minutes spent in (un)structured and total PA (i.e. summation of structured and unstructured PA). Accelerometer data (min/ day) were used as the criterion measure of daily PA. Spearman rank correlation coefficients were used to test the relationship between the parental-reported and accelerometer-determined PA. Paired-Samples T-Test was used to test parents’ over or underestimation of daily PA.

Results 104 preschoolers provided data on both measures of total PA (age: 4.50±0.98; 47%boys). Accelerometer-determined levels of daily PA were not significantly related with parental-reported PA (ρ=0.008; p>0.05). There were also no significant relationships between daily levels of objectively assessed PA and daily levels of parentalreported (un)structured PA (respectively ρ=0.047 and ρ=0.049; both p>0.05). Parents significantly overestimated their preschoolers’ daily PA (176.84±101.39min/day versus 93.78±28.85min/day; t=8.028; p<0.001).

Discussion and Conclusion The parental-report questionnaire used in this study appeared to be invalid to measure preschoolers’ PA. Although it is tempting to think that parents are able to adequately recall their preschoolers’ PA, this study showed that parents overestimated their preschoolers’ daily PA. The accelerometer has previously been indicated as an appropriate criterion measure to assess PA in young children. However, the results might be influenced by the fact that parents had to report on a usual week and not on the time frame during which the criterion measure was assessed [1].

To conclude, the parental-report questionnaire used in this study did not adequately assess preschoolers’ PA. Further research is required to develop and validate alternative measurements to assess preschoolers’ PA (e.g. activity dairy, combined parent- and teacher-report questionnaire).

References [1] Oliver M, Schofield GM, Kolt GS. Physical Activity in Preschoolers. Understanding Prevalence and Measurement Issues. Sports Med, 2007; 37 (12): 1045-1070.