Validation of the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire for self-administration in a European context

  • Published on May 8, 2017

Background/Aim: Little is known about the measurement properties of the self-administered Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ) in Europe. The aim was to validate the self-administered GPAQ against accelerometry in Switzerland in German, French and Italian.

Methods: Participants of this cross-sectional study were recruited among members of the Swiss Food Panel (German-speaking and French-speaking samples) and as a convenience sample (Italian-speaking sample). They completed the GPAQ and wore an Actigraph GT3X+ accelerometer during 7 days in 2014/2015. GPAQ and accelerometer data on total physical activity and different intensities, as well as sitting time, were compared using Spearman correlations and Bland-Altman plots.

Results: Complete data were available for 354 participants (50.6% women, mean age: 47.0 years) on physical activity, and for 366 on sitting time. Correlations were highest for vigorous physical activity (r=0.46) and sitting time (r=0.47). A significant sex difference was apparent for vigorous physical activity (men: r=0.35 vs women: r=0.55; p=0.02). Some age differences were present especially for total physical activity, with the lowest correlations found for those aged 60+ years. The correlation for sitting time was significantly higher in the youngest age group (r=0.61) compared with the middle (r=0.38, p=0.01) and the oldest age groups (r=0.37, p=0.03). Total physical activity was 2.8 times higher according to the GPAQ than to accelerometer data.

Conclusions: The self-administered version of the GPAQ showed fair-to-moderate validity in the three languages tested, both for men and women and individuals aged ≤60 years. For older individuals, a careful interpretation of total physical activity is required.


  • Wanner M 1,2
  • Hartmann C 3
  • Pestoni G 2,4
  • Martin BW 2,5
  • Siegrist M 3
  • Martin-Diener E 2


Cancer Registry Zurich and Zug, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Department of Health Sciences and Technology, Institute for Environmental Decisions, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Department of Health Sciences and Technology, Institute of Human Movement Sciences, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Department of Health, Canton Basel-Landschaft, Liestal, Switzerland.


BMJ Open Sport Exercise Medicine


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