Testing self-report time-use diaries against objective instruments in real time

Jonathan Gershuny, Teresa Harms, Aiden Doherty, Emma Thomas, Karen Milton, Paul Kelly, Charlie Foster

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29 Citations (Scopus)
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This study provides a new test of time-use diary methodology, comparing diaries with a pair of objective criterion measures: wearable cameras and accelerometers. A volunteer sample of respondents (n = 148) completed conventional self-report paper time-use diaries using the standard UK Harmonised European Time Use Study (HETUS) instrument. On the diary day, respondents wore a camera that continuously recorded images of their activities during waking hours (approximately 1,500–2,000 images/day) and also an accelerometer that tracked their physical activity continuously throughout the 24-hour period covered by the diary. Of the initial 148 participants recruited, 131 returned usable diary and camera records, of whom 124 also provided a usable whole-day accelerometer record. The comparison of the diary data with the camera and accelerometer records strongly supports the use of diary methodology at both the aggregate (sample) and individual levels. It provides evidence that time-use data could be used to complement physical activity questionnaires for providing population-level estimates of physical activity. It also implies new opportunities for investigating techniques for calibrating metabolic equivalent of task (MET) attributions to daily activities using large-scale, population-representative time-use diary studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)318-349
Number of pages32
JournalSociological Methodology
Issue number1
Early online date30 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

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