Recent improvements in the accuracy and availability of accelerometers present an opportunity to increase the validity of physical activity assessment. While use of these devices is now pervasive among researchers, accelerometers have not been widely used by community-based public health practitioners.
To present a case example of field-based data collection using accelerometers with youth.
A collaborative research team, including state- and county-level public health practitioners and university researchers, collected accelerometer data from 1313 youth, aged 9 to 14 years, in 20 North Carolina counties.
This case example highlights some considerations for how to improve communication and streamline data collection logistics within a multidisciplinary research team. It demonstrates that a collaborative model can make objective physical activity evaluation feasible in community settings with limited resources.
Lessons learned by our research team about coordinating the logistics of accelerometer use and scheduling a large-scale data collection in multiple sites can be adapted by other researchers and community-based practitioners who aim to evaluate physical activity using accelerometers or other mobile data collection devices.