Correction of bias in self-reported sitting time among office workers - a study based on compositional data analysis

Pieter Coenen, SvendErik Mathiassen, Allard J. van der Beek, David M. Hallman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Objective Emerging evidence suggests that excessive sitting has negative health effects. However, this evidence largely relies on research using self-reported sitting time, which is known to be biased. To correct this bias, we aimed at developing a calibration model estimating "true" sitting from self-reported sitting. Methods Occupational sitting time was estimated by self-reports (the International Physical Activity Question-naire) and objective measurements (thigh-worn accelerometer) among 99 Swedish office workers at a governmental agency, at baseline and 3 and 12 months afterwards. Following compositional data analysis procedures, both sitting estimates were transformed into isometric log-ratios (ILR). This effectively addresses that times spent in various activities are inherently dependent and can be presented as values of only 0−100%. Linear regression was used to develop a simple calibration model estimating objectively measured "true" sitting ILR (dependent variable) from self-reported sitting ILR (independent variable). Additional self-reported variables were then added to construct a full calibration model. Performance of the models was assessed by root-mean-square (RMS) differences between estimated and objectively measured values. Models developed on baseline data were validated using the follow-up datasets. Results Uncalibrated self-reported sitting ILR showed an RMS error of 0.767. Simple and full calibration models (incorporating body mass index, office type, and gender) reduced this error to 0.422 (55%) and 0.398 (52%), respectively. In the validations, model performance decreased to 57%/62% (simple models) and 57%/62% (full models) for the two follow-up data sets, respectively. Conclusion Calibration adjusting for errors in self-reported sitting led to substantially more correct estimates of "true" sitting than uncalibrated self-reports. Validation indicated that model performance would change somewhat in new datasets and that full models perform no better than simple models, but calibration remained effective.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-42
Number of pages11
JournalScandinavian Journal of Work, Environment and Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Calibration
  • Calibration model
  • Compositional data analysis
  • Occupational health
  • Sedentary behavior

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