The Comparative Validity of Interactive Multimedia Questionnaires to Paper-Administered Questionnaires for Beverage Intake and Physical Activity: Pilot Study
Background: Brief, valid, and reliable dietary and physical activity assessment tools are needed, and interactive computerized assessments (ie, those with visual cues, pictures, sounds, and voiceovers) can reduce administration and scoring burdens commonly encountered with paper-based assessments.
Objective: The purpose of this pilot investigation was to evaluate the comparative validity and reliability of interactive multimedia (IMM) versions (ie, IMM-1 and IMM-2) compared to validated paper-administered (PP) versions of the beverage intake questionnaire (BEVQ-15) and Stanford Leisure-Time Activity Categorical Item (L-Cat); a secondary purpose was to evaluate results across two education attainment levels.
Methods: Adults 21 years or older (n=60) were recruited to complete three laboratory sessions, separated by three to seven days in a randomly assigned sequence, with the following assessments–demographic information, two IMM and one paper-based (PP) version of the BEVQ-15 and L-Cat, health literacy, and an IMM usability survey.
Results: Responses across beverage categories from the IMM-1 and PP versions (validity; r=.34-.98) and the IMM-1 and IMM-2 administrations (reliability; r=.61-.94) (all P<.001) were significantly correlated. Paired t tests revealed significant differences in sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) grams and kcal (P=.02 and P=.01, respectively) and total beverage kcal (P=.03), on IMM-1 and IMM-2; however, comparative validity was demonstrated between IMM-2 and the PP version suggesting familiarization with the IMM tool may influence participant responses (mean differences: SSB 63 grams, SEM 87; P=.52; SSB 21 kcal, SEM 33; P=.48; total beverage 65 kcal, SEM 49; P=.19). Overall mean scores between the PP and both IMM versions of the L-Cat were different (both P<.001); however, responses on all versions were correlated (P<.001). Differences between education categories were noted at each L-Cat administration (IMM-1: P=.008; IMM-2: P=.001; PP: P=.002). Major and minor themes from user feedback suggest that the IMM questionnaires were easy to complete, and relevant to participants' typical beverage choices and physical activity habits.
Conclusions: In general, less educated participants consumed more total beverage and SSB energy, and reported less engagement in physical activity. The IMM BEVQ-15 appears to be a valid and reliable measure to assess habitual beverage intake, although software familiarization may increase response accuracy. The IMM-L-Cat can be considered reliable and may have permitted respondents to more freely disclose actual physical activity levels versus the paper-administered tool. Future larger-scale investigations are warranted to confirm these possibilities.