Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

BMC Medical Research Methodology






Springer Nature / BMC


School of Medical and Health Sciences




National Health and Medical Research Council National Heart Foundation of Australia Australian Government

Grant Number

NHMRC Number : APP1080186, APP1125913

Grant Link


Curtis, R. G., Olds, T., Plotnikoff, R., Vandelanotte, C., Edney, S., Ryan, J., & Maher, C. (2020). Validity and bias on the online active Australia survey: Activity level and participant factors associated with self-report bias. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 20, article 6.


Background This study examined the criterion validity of the online Active Australia Survey, using accelerometry as the criterion, and whether self-report bias was related to level of activity, age, sex, education, body mass index and health-related quality of life. Methods The online Active Australia Survey was validated against the GENEActiv accelerometer as a direct measure of activity. Participants (n = 344) wore an accelerometer for 7 days, completed the Active Australia Survey, and reported their health and demographic characteristics. A Spearman’s rank coefficient examined the association between minutes of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity recorded on the Active Australia Survey and GENEActiv accelerometer. A Bland-Altman plot illustrated self-report bias (the difference between methods). Linear mixed effects modelling was used to examine whether participant factors predicted self-report bias. Results The association between moderate-to-vigorous physical activity reported on the online Active Australia Survey and accelerometer was significant (rs = .27, p < .001). Participants reported 4 fewer minutes per day on the Active Australia Survey than was recorded by accelerometry (95% limits of agreement −104 – 96 min) but the difference was not significant (t(343) = −1.40, p = .16). Self-report bias was negatively associated with minutes of accelerometer-recorded moderate-to-vigorous physical activity and positively associated with mental health-related quality of life. Conclusions The online Active Australia Survey showed limited criterion validity against accelerometry. Self-report bias was related to activity level and mental health-related quality of life. Caution is recommended when interpreting studies using the online Active Australia Survey.



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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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