Reliability and validity of the early years physical activity questionnaire (EY-PAQ)

Measuring physical activity (PA) and sedentary time (ST) in young children (<5 years) is complex. Objective measures have high validity but require specialist expertise, are expensive, and can be burdensome for participants. A proxy-report instrument for young children that accurately measures PA and ST is needed. The aim of this study was to assess the reliability and validity of the Early Years Physical Activity Questionnaire (EY-PAQ). In a setting where English and Urdu are the predominant languages spoken by parents of young children, a sample of 196 parents and their young children (mean age 3.2 ± 0.8 years) from Bradford, UK took part in the study. A total of 156 (79.6%) questionnaires were completed in English and 40 (20.4%) were completed in transliterated Urdu. A total of 109 parents took part in the reliability aspect of the study, which involved completion of the EY-PAQ on two occasions (7.2 days apart; standard deviation (SD) = 1.1). All 196 participants took part in the validity aspect which involved comparison of EY-PAQ scores against accelerometry. Validty anaylsis used all data and data falling with specific MVPA and ST boundaries. Reliability was assessed using intra-class correlations (ICC) and validity by Bland–Altman plots and rank correlation coefficients. The test re-test reliability of the EY-PAQ was moderate for ST (ICC = 0.47) and fair for moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA)(ICC = 0.35). The EY-PAQ had poor agreement with accelerometer-determined ST (mean difference = −87.5 min·day−1) and good agreement for MVPA (mean difference = 7.1 min·day−1) limits of agreement were wide for all variables. The rank correlation coefficient was non-significant for ST (rho = 0.19) and significant for MVPA (rho = 0.30). The EY-PAQ has comparable validity and reliability to other PA self-report tools and is a promising population-based measure of young children’s habitual MVPA but not ST. In situations when objective methods are not possible for measurement of young children’s MVPA, the EY-PAQ may be a suitable alternative but only if boundaries are applied.