Methods to assess measurement error in questionnaires of sedentary behavior

Joshua N. Sampson, Charles E. Matthews, Laurence S. Freedman, Raymond J. Carroll, Victor Kipnis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


ABSTRACT: Sedentary behavior has already been associated with mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Questionnaires are an affordable tool for measuring sedentary behavior in large epidemiological studies. Here, we introduce and evaluate two statistical methods for quantifying measurement error in questionnaires. Accurate estimates are needed for assessing questionnaire quality. The two methods would be applied to validation studies that measure a sedentary behavior by both questionnaire and accelerometer on multiple days. The first method fits a reduced model by assuming the accelerometer is without error, while the second method fits a more complete model that allows both measures to have error. Because accelerometers tend to be highly accurate, we show that ignoring the accelerometer's measurement error, can result in more accurate estimates of measurement error in some scenarios. In this article, we derive asymptotic approximations for the mean-squared error of the estimated parameters from both methods, evaluate their dependence on study design and behavior characteristics, and offer an R package so investigators can make an informed choice between the two methods. We demonstrate the difference between the two methods in a recent validation study comparing previous day recalls to an accelerometer-based ActivPal.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1706-1721
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Applied Statistics
Issue number9
StatePublished - 3 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© , This work was authored as part of the Contributor's official duties as an Employee of the United States Government and is therefore a work of the United States Government. In accordance with 17 USC. 105, no copyright protection is available for such works under US Law.


  • Measurement error
  • PDR
  • questionnaire
  • sedentary


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