Reporting accelerometer methods in physical activity intervention studies: A systematic review and recommendations for authors

Document Type


Publication Date



Health Promotion and Human Performance

Publication Title

British Journal of Sports Medicine


Objective This systematic review assessed the completeness of accelerometer reporting in physical activity (PA) intervention studies and assessed factors related to accelerometer reporting. Design The PubMed database was used to identify manuscripts for inclusion. Included studies were PA interventions that used accelerometers, were written in English and were conducted between 1 January 1998 and 31 July 2014. 195 manuscripts from PA interventions that used accelerometers to measure PA were included. Manuscript completeness was scored using 12 questions focused on 3 accelerometer reporting areas: accelerometer information, data processing and interpretation and protocol non-compliance. Variables, including publication year, journal focus and impact factor, and population studied were evaluated to assess trends in reporting completeness. Results The number of manuscripts using accelerometers to assess PA in interventions increased from 1 in 2002 to 29 in the first 7 months of 2014. Accelerometer reporting completeness correlated weakly with publication year (r=0.24, p<0.001). Correlations were greater when we assessed improvements over time in reporting data processing in manuscripts published in PA-focused journals (r=0.43, p=0.002) compared to manuscripts published in non-PA-focused journals (r=0.19, p=0.021). Only 7 of 195 (4%) manuscripts reported all components of accelerometer use, and only 132 (68%) reported more than half of the components. Conclusions Accelerometer reporting of PA in intervention studies has been poor and improved only minimally over time. We provide recommendations to improve accelerometer reporting and include a template to standardise reports.

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