Comparison of two methods of assessing physical activity in the coronary artery risk development in young adults (CARDIA) study

Stephen Sidney, David R. Jacobs, William L. Haskell, Mary Anne Armstrong, Albert Dimicco, Albert Oberman, Peter J. Savage, Martha L. Slattery, Barbara Sternfeld, Linda Van Hom

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188 Scopus citations


Physical activity was assessed by questionnaire among 4,956 young blacks and whites aged 18-30 years at the baseline examination (1985-1986) of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, a longitudinal study of cardiovascular risk factors. The Physical Activity Recall questionnaire categorized all activity during the previous week, while the Physical Activity History questionnaire quantified participation in 13 specific activities during the previous year. This report compares the two questionnaires with regard to their characterization of the activity levels of the sociodemographic subgroups of the study population and their associations with known physiologic correlates of physical activity. Both questionnaires resulted in the same physical activity patterns for sex (men > women) and age (younger > older) strata. However, the mean Physical Activity History score was higher in white women than in black women, while the Physical Activity Recall scores were nearly equal. The Physical Activity History score was directly related to educational status, and the Physical Activity Recall score was inversely related to educational status. The Physical Activity History score was generally more strongly associated with physiologic variables known to be related to physical activity (e.g., treadmill test duration). Based upon these findings, which may only be appropriate in this age group, it was concluded that the Physical Activity History score was the more valid measure of habitual physical activity in this study group of young adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1231-1245
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 1991

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
7 Department of FamSy and Community Medicine, University of Utah Medical School, Salt Lake City, UT 8Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, L. Reprint requests to Dr. Stephen Sidney, Division of Research, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, 3451 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland, CA 94611. This research was supported by National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute contracts NO1-HC-84047, NO1-HC-84048, NO1-HC-84049, and NO1-HC-84050. The authors thank Bruce Fofck and Marianne Sadler for computer programming and Irene Tekawa for btostatistical consultation.


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Coronary disease
  • Exercise
  • Physical fitness
  • Questionnaires
  • Risk factors


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