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Original research
Validation of the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire for self-administration in a European context
  1. Miriam Wanner1,2,
  2. Christina Hartmann3,
  3. Giulia Pestoni2,4,
  4. Brian Winfried Martin2,5,
  5. Michael Siegrist3,
  6. Eva Martin-Diener2
  1. 1 Cancer Registry Zurich and Zug, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  2. 2 Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Prevention Institute, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  3. 3 Department of Health Sciences and Technology, Institute for Environmental Decisions, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  4. 4 Department of Health Sciences and Technology, Institute of Human Movement Sciences, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
  5. 5 Department of Health, Canton Basel-Landschaft, Liestal, Switzerland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Miriam Wanner; miriam.wanner{at}


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.

  • Measurement
  • physical activity
  • validity
  • accelerometer

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  • Acknowledgements We thank Sandra Rosser for her assistance in the data collection in the German-speaking part, and Nadia Superti for her assistance in the data collection in the French-speaking and Italian-speaking part and her support regarding translations.

  • Contributors MW was involved in the study design, data assessment, data analyses and writing the paper. EM-D was involved in the study design, data assessment and writing the paper. CH was involved in participant recruitment and writing the paper. GP was involved in data assessment and writing the paper. BWM was involved in the study design and writing the paper. MS was involved in participant recruitment and writing the paper.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health (grant number 14.008245).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent We used a patient consent form that adheres to the requirements of the ethics committee of the Canton of Zurich. Each patient gave written informed consent prior to participation.

  • Ethics approval Ethics Committee of the Canton of Zurich.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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