Validity and reliability of subjective methods to assess sedentary behaviour in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis

SBRN Terminology Consensus Project Paper Wins 2020 IJBNPA Most Cited Methodology Paper Award!
June 18, 2020
Change and determinants of total and context-specific sitting in adults: A 7-year longitudinal study
July 2, 2020

A paper titled “Validity and reliability of subjective methods to assess sedentary behaviour in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis” was published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity on June 15, 2020. The summary of the study and citation details are below; the full-text article is available here (open access).

Study summary


Subjective measures of sedentary behaviour (SB) (i.e. questionnaires and diaries/logs) are widely implemented, and can be useful for capturing type and context of SBs. However, little is known about comparative validity and reliability. The aim of this systematic review and meta-analysis was to: 1) identify subjective methods to assess overall, domain- and behaviour-specific SB, and 2) examine the validity and reliability of these methods.


The databases MEDLINE, EMBASE and SPORTDiscus were searched up to March 2020. Inclusion criteria were: 1) assessment of SB, 2) evaluation of subjective measurement tools, 3) being performed in healthy adults, 4) manuscript written in English, and 5) paper was peer-reviewed. Data of validity and/or reliability measurements was extracted from included studies and a meta-analysis using random effects was performed to assess the pooled correlation coefficients of the validity.


The systematic search resulted in 2423 hits. After excluding duplicates and screening on title and abstract, 82 studies were included with 75 self-reported measurement tools. There was wide variability in the measurement properties and quality of the studies. The criterion validity varied between poor-to-excellent (correlation coefficient [R] range − 0.01- 0.90) with logs/diaries (R = 0.63 [95%CI 0.48–0.78]) showing higher criterion validity compared to questionnaires (R = 0.35 [95%CI 0.32–0.39]). Furthermore, correlation coefficients of single- and multiple-item questionnaires were comparable (1-item R = 0.34; 2-to-9-items R = 0.35; ≥10-items R = 0.37). The reliability of SB measures was moderate-to-good, with the quality of these studies being mostly fair-to-good.


Logs and diaries are recommended to validly and reliably assess self-reported SB. However, due to time and resources constraints, 1-item questionnaires may be preferred to subjectively assess SB in large-scale observations when showing similar validity and reliability compared to longer questionnaires.

Authors and affiliations

Esmée A. Bakker1,2, Yvonne A. W. Hartman1, Maria T. E. Hopman1, Nicola D. Hopkins2, Lee E. F. Graves2, David W. Dunstan3,4, Genevieve N. Healy5, Thijs M. H. Eijsvogels1 & Dick H. J. Thijssen1,2

  1. Radboud Institute for Health Sciences, Department of Physiology, Radboud University Medical Center, P.O. Box 9101, 6500, HB, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
  2. Research Institute for Sport and Exercise Sciences, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK
  3. Baker Heart & Diabetes Institute, Melbourne, Australia
  4. Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne, Australia
  5. The University of Queensland, School of Public Health, Brisbane, Australia


Bakker, E.A., Hartman, Y.A.W., Hopman, M.T.E. et al. Validity and reliability of subjective methods to assess sedentary behaviour in adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 17, 75 (2020).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *