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Gillings School and RTI International experts give insight on using accelerometry to measure physical activity and sedentary behavior

Experts reviewed 155 studies revealing the need for better reporting on methods of accelerometry data capture

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A new scoping review published by scientists at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and nonprofit research institute RTI International reveals how studies use accelerometry to understand physical activity and sedentary behavior in adults.

Researchers Kelly Evenson, Ph.D. and Kennedy Peter from the Gillings School’s Department of Epidemiology, Carmen Cuthbertson, Ph.D., assistant professor at East Carolina University, and Stephanie Eckman, Ph.D., and Elissa Scherer of RTI International, collaborated on the scoping review, which identified 155 studies that collected accelerometry data on adults.

The review identified common practices across studies using accelerometry regarding how the data were collected, cleaned, and used. “The data will help other studies that wish to use accelerometry make important decisions about which devices to use, how to distribute them, and where they can be worn, as well as the consent and adherence rates that studies can expect to achieve,” said Eckman.

Accelerometry uses device-based motion sensors – called accelerometers – to collect detailed movement information. Technological advances have made these devices small enough to be included in cars, phones and other devices.

This research was funded by NC TRaCS and RTI International. The researchers have made their findings available to the public through the UNC Dataverse.

Read the full study