Associations between parent self-reported and accelerometer-measured physical activity and sedentary time in children: Ecological momentary assessment study

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: Retrospective self-report questionnaires are the most common method for assessing physical activity (PA) and sedentary behavior (SB) in children when the use of objective assessment methods (eg, accelerometry) is cost prohibitive. However, self-report measures have limitations (eg, recall bias). The use of real-time, mobile ecological momentary assessment (EMA) has been proposed to address these shortcomings. The study findings will provide useful information for researchers interested in using EMA surveys for measuring PA and SB in children, particularly when reported by a parent or caregiver.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to examine the associations between the parent's EMA report of their child's PA and SB and accelerometer-measured sedentary time (ST), light-intensity PA (LPA), and moderate-to-vigorous-intensity PA (MVPA) and to examine if these associations differed by day of week, sex, and season.

METHODS: A total of 140 parent-child dyads (mean child age 6.4 years, SD 0.8; n=66 girls; n=21 African American; n=24 American Indian; n=25 Hispanic/Latino; n=24 Hmong; n=22 Somali; and n=24 white) participated in this study. During an 8-day period, parents reported child PA and SB via multiple daily signal contingent EMA surveys, and children wore a hip-mounted accelerometer to objectively measure ST, LPA, and MVPA. Accelerometer data was matched to the time period occurring before parent EMA-report of child PA and SB. Generalized estimating equations with interaction-term analyses were performed to determine whether the relationship between parent-EMA report of child PA and SB and accelerometer-measured ST and LPA and MVPA outcomes differed by day of the week, sex and season.

RESULTS: The parent's EMA report of their child's PA and SB was strongly associated with accelerometer-measured ST, LPA, and MVPA. The parent's EMA report of their child's PA was stronger during the weekend than on weekdays for accelerometer-measured ST (P≤.001) and LPA (P<.001). For the parent's EMA report of their child's SB, strong associations were observed with accelerometer-measured ST (P<.001), LPA (P=.005), and MVPA (P=.008). The findings related to sex-interaction terms indicated that the association between the parent-reported child's PA via EMA and the accelerometer-measured MVPA was stronger for boys than girls (P=.02). The association between the parent's EMA report of their child's PA and SB and accelerometer-measured ST and PA was similar across seasons in this sample (all P values >.31).

CONCLUSIONS: When the use of accelerometry-based methods is not feasible and in contexts where the parent is able to spend more proximate time observing the child's PA and SB, the parent's EMA report might be a superior method for measuring PA and SB in young children relative to self-report, given the EMA's strong associations with accelerometer-measured PA and ST.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere15458
JournalJMIR mHealth and uHealth
Volume8
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research was supported by grant number R01HL126171 from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (principal investigator: JB). A diversity supplement from the parent R01 grant funded the training of the first author (J de Brito). The authors would like to thank the participants and the dedicated staff who carried out the home visits.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 JMIR Publications. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Accelerometry
  • Children
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment
  • Mobile Devices
  • Physical Activity
  • Sedentary Behavior

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

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