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01.12.2012 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2012 Open Access

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes 1/2012

Patient-reported physical activity questionnaires: A systematic review of content and format

Health and Quality of Life Outcomes > Ausgabe 1/2012
Kate Williams, Anja Frei, Anders Vetsch, Fabienne Dobbels, Milo A Puhan, Katja Rüdell
Wichtige Hinweise

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​1477-7525-10-28) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

Competing interests

Kate Williams was contracted by Pfizer Ltd when this review was conducted and Katja Rüdell is an employee of Pfizer Ltd. The current work is methodological and provides no competitive advantage or disadvantage. Anja Frei, Anders Vetsch, Fabienne Dobbels and Milo Puhan have no competing interests. No medical writers were used to support the writing of this manuscript.

Authors' contributions

KR and MP led the systematic review. KR, MP, AF and FD developed the conceptual framework and the study protocol. KR, MP and AF coordinated the review. KR, MP, FD, and AF conducted the electronic database searches; KW, AV, AF, KR and MP conducted the additional searches. AF coordinated the references in RefWorks. KR and FD (1st reviewers), KW (2nd reviewer) and MP and AF (3rd reviewers) screened titles and abstracts. KW and KR (1st reviewers), AF and AV (2nd reviewers) and MP (3rd reviewer) assessed full texts of the identified studies. KW and AV (1st reviewers) and KR and AF (2nd reviewers) extracted the relevant data. KW conducted the statistical analysis. KW drafted the manuscript. All authors contributed to revising the manuscript and approved the final version.



Many patients with chronic illness are limited in their physical activities. This systematic review evaluates the content and format of patient-reported outcome (PRO) questionnaires that measure physical activity in elderly and chronically ill populations.


Questionnaires were identified by a systematic literature search of electronic databases (Medline, Embase, PsychINFO & CINAHL), hand searches (reference sections and PROQOLID database) and expert input. A qualitative analysis was conducted to assess the content and format of the questionnaires and a Venn diagram was produced to illustrate this. Each stage of the review process was conducted by at least two independent reviewers.


104 questionnaires fulfilled our criteria. From these, 182 physical activity domains and 1965 items were extracted. Initial qualitative analysis of the domains found 11 categories. Further synthesis of the domains found 4 broad categories: 'physical activity related to general activities and mobility', 'physical activity related to activities of daily living', 'physical activity related to work, social or leisure time activities', and '(disease-specific) symptoms related to physical activity'. The Venn diagram showed that no questionnaires covered all 4 categories and that the '(disease-specific) symptoms related to physical activity' category was often not combined with the other categories.


A large number of questionnaires with a broad range of physical activity content were identified. Although the content could be broadly organised, there was no consensus on the content and format of physical activity PRO questionnaires in elderly and chronically ill populations. Nevertheless, this systematic review will help investigators to select a physical activity PRO questionnaire that best serves their research question and context.
Additional file 2:Data extraction results: content and format of the reviewed questionnaires. Summary of the extracted data on the content and format of the reviewed questionnaires. This covers the population, domains, categories, items, answer options, anchors, scoring, direction of scale, recall period, administration, questionnaire type and quantification. (DOC 670 KB)
Authors’ original file for figure 1
Authors’ original file for figure 2
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