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Open Access Research article

Validity and reliability of a self-report instrument to assess social support and physical environmental correlates of physical activity in adolescents

Anne K Reimers*, Darko Jekauc, Filip Mess, Nadine Mewes and Alexander Woll

Author Affiliations

Department of Sport Science, University of Konstanz, Universitätsstraße 10, 78457 Konstanz, Germany

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BMC Public Health 2012, 12:705  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-705

Published: 29 August 2012



The purpose of this study was to examine the internal consistency, test-retest reliability, construct validity and predictive validity of a new German self-report instrument to assess the influence of social support and the physical environment on physical activity in adolescents.


Based on theoretical consideration, the short scales on social support and physical environment were developed and cross-validated in two independent study samples of 9 to 17 year-old girls and boys. The longitudinal sample of Study I (n = 196) was recruited from a German comprehensive school, and subjects in this study completed the questionnaire twice with a between-test interval of seven days. Cronbach’s alphas were computed to determine the internal consistency of the factors. Test-retest reliability of the latent factors was assessed using intra-class coefficients. Factorial validity of the scales was assessed using principle components analysis. Construct validity was determined using a cross-validation technique by performing confirmatory factor analysis with the independent nationwide cross-sectional sample of Study II (n = 430). Correlations between factors and three measures of physical activity (objectively measured moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA), self-reported habitual MVPA and self-reported recent MVPA) were calculated to determine the predictive validity of the instrument.


Construct validity of the social support scale (two factors: parental support and peer support) and the physical environment scale (four factors: convenience, public recreation facilities, safety and private sport providers) was shown. Both scales had moderate test-retest reliability. The factors of the social support scale also had good internal consistency and predictive validity. Internal consistency and predictive validity of the physical environment scale were low to acceptable.


The results of this study indicate moderate to good reliability and construct validity of the social support scale and physical environment scale. Predictive validity was only confirmed for the social support scale but not for the physical environment scale. Hence, it remains unclear if a person’s physical environment has a direct or an indirect effect on physical activity behavior or a moderation function.

Cross-validation; German; Questionnaire; Motorik-Modul (MoMo); Confirmatory factor analysis