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Durham University

Department of Sociology

Completed Projects

Development of an Administrator led Interview Technique for the Assessment of Physical Activity Levels in Children

A research project of the Department of Sociology.


Reliable evaluation and quantification of physical activity levels in children and young people is notoriously difficult to achieve (Armstrong 1998). Over the years a full range of self report questionnaires have been developed to help provide valid and reliable data, yet few of these questionnaires have been designed specifically to assess physical activity in children and young people (Treuth et al. 2005). At the heart of some of the issues surrounding self report measures in children and young people are the actual definitions of what is meant by terms such as ‘physical activity’, ‘sedentary’, ‘moderate intensity’. This is further compounded when a child is required not only to recall past physical activity activities but also to delineate those activities and place them in a rigorous time frame. Set against this backdrop a physical activity interview technique, specifically for use with children and young people, has been developed.


To provide a validation study for a physical activity questionnaire/interview technique previously developed for the Durham Dales LEAP project.


The purpose of this particular study is to validate a self report questionnaire / interview technique against an objective measurement using portable heart rate monitors. The ’new’ questionnaire is a hybrid version of a self report measure and individual interview whereby the participant self reports physical activity behaviour whilst being prompted by an interviewer. The interview process takes around 6-8 minutes per participant from which an estimation of energy expenditure for the day can be calculated. Participants will be interviewed in a school setting and will be aged between 9 and 16 years old. Parental consent will be sought prior participation in the project.


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