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Lessons Learned From a Collaborative Field-Based Collection of Physical Activity Data Using Accelerometers

Morris, Sara F. MAT, MPH, RD; Kolbe, Mary Bea MPH, RD; Moore, Justin B. PhD, MS, FACSM

Journal of Public Health Management & Practice: March/April 2014 - Volume 20 - Issue 2 - p 251–258
doi: 10.1097/PHH.0b013e3182893b9b
Original Articles

Context: 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.

Objective: To present a case example of field-based data collection using accelerometers with youth.

Method: 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.

Results: 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.

Conclusions: 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.

The objective of this article is to present a case example of field-based data collection using accelerometers with youth.

The North Carolina Public Health Foundation, Raleigh, North Carolina (Ms Morris); The Physical Activity and Nutrition Branch, North Carolina Division of Public Health, Raleigh, North Carolina (Ms Kolbe); and Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina (Dr Moore).

Correspondence: Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS, FACSM, Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina (JMOORE@mailbox.sc.edu).

This work was supported by a grant from the Active Living Research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJ 67126). Additional support was provided in kind by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2014 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.