Research Study Abstract

Feasibility of Using Activity Monitors in Surveillance Studies With 2 to 3-year-old White and Pakistani Children

  • Added on June 16, 2011

Introduction The use of motion sensors to objectively measure physical activity (PA) in young children has become increasingly common, due to the various advantages they have over other methods, such as parental report [1]. New and improved motion sensors are continuously being made available, leaving researchers with many methodological [1] and budgetary decisions. In young children, the reliability and validity of different motion sensors has been assessed in predominately white preschoolers. However, no published studies have assessed the feasibility (acceptability/appropriateness) of their use in children younger than 3 years old, or in children of different ethnicities. This study aims to assess the feasibility of using the Actiheart, Actigraph GT3X+ and the ActivPAL3 to assess PA and sedentary behavior (SB) in 2 to 3 year old Pakistani and White children, and their parents simultaneously.

Methods A minimum of 6 focus groups (3-6 participants) were conducted at Children’s Centres in Bradford, UK, with White and Pakistani mothers/caregivers of 2 to 3 year old children. The focus groups were run by a moderator and a note taker in English, or Urdu for non-English speaking Pakistanis. The use and positioning of the different motion sensors was explained to the mothers and their opinions on each device were assessed, in terms of the feasibility of their use with the child and both parents. This is an ongoing study, and the results presented are based on 3 focus groups completed to date.

Results Preliminary results show the Actigraph GT3X+ is the most preferred device for use in children and both parents, and the Actiheart showing the lowest acceptability, particularly for Pakistani parents/caregivers. Concerns raised include the children fiddling with the Actiheart due to curiosity or itching, or unsuitability in husbands/partners due to chest hair, the discomfort caused by the large size of the ActivPAL3 relative to the size of children’s thighs or incompatibility of use with tight clothing, and children fiddling with the Actigraph GT3X+ if presence was noted.

Discussion and Conclusion These preliminary results raise important issues about the use of these motion sensors with very young children, and some ethnic differences in opinions have been identified. Future PA and SB surveillance studies should assess the practical feasibility of using different motion sensors with the target population before choosing the device, to enhance compliance and reduce the chances of recruiting a biased sample because certain types of participants are not willing to use the sensor.

References [1] Cliff DP, Reilly JJ, Okely AD. Methodological considerations in using accelerometers to assess habitual physical activity in children aged 0–5 years. J Sci Med Sport, 2009; 12: 557-567