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BackgroundAccelerometer measures of physical behaviours (physical activity, sedentary behaviour and sleep) in observational studies offer detailed insight into associations with health and disease. Maximising recruitment and accelerometer wear, and minimising data loss remain key challenges. How varying methods used to collect accelerometer data influence data collection outcomes is poorly understood. We examined the influence of accelerometer placement and other methodological factors on participant recruitment, adherence and data loss in observational studies of adult physical behaviours.MethodsThe review was in accordance with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta Analyses (PRISMA). Observational studies of adults including accelerometer measurement of physical behaviours were identified using database (MEDLINE (Ovid), Embase, PsychINFO, Health Management Information Consortium, Web of Science, SPORTDiscus and Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature) and supplementary searches to May 2022. Information regarding study design, accelerometer data collection methods and outcomes were extracted for each accelerometer measurement (study wave). Random effects meta-analyses and narrative syntheses were used to examine associations of methodological factors with participant recruitment, adherence and data loss.Results123 accelerometer data collection waves were identified from 95 studies (92.5% from high-income countries). In-person distribution of accelerometers was associated with a greater proportion of invited participants consenting to wear an accelerometer (+ 30% [95% CI 18%, 42%] compared to postal distribution), and adhering to minimum wear criteria (+ 15% [4%, 25%]). The proportion of participants meeting minimum wear criteria was higher when accelerometers were worn at the wrist (+ 14% [ 5%, 23%]) compared to waist. Daily wear-time tended to be higher in studies using wrist-worn accelerometers compared to other wear locations. Reporting of information regarding data collection was inconsistent.ConclusionMethodological decisions including accelerometer wear-location and method of distribution may influence important data collection outcomes including recruitment and accelerometer wear-time. Consistent and comprehensive reporting of accelerometer data collection methods and outcomes is needed to support development of future studies and international consortia. Review supported by the British Heart Foundation (SP/F/20/150002) and registered (Prospero CRD42020213465).

Original publication




Journal article


The international journal of behavioral nutrition and physical activity

Publication Date





Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, University of Exeter, St Lukes Campus. EX12LU, Exeter, UK.


Humans, Exercise, Data Collection, Research Design, Adult, Accelerometry, Sedentary Behavior