Dr. Lisa Chasan-Taber, chair of the department of biostatistics and epidemiology in the University of Massachusetts Amherst School of Public Health and Health Sciences, has received a two-year, $431,000 grant from National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to update, validate and refine the widely used Pregnancy Physical Activity Questionnaire (PPAQ). The PPAQ was originally developed by her research group in 2004 as the first validated physical activity questionnaire for pregnant women. It was earlier this year dubbed the gold standard in its field.
Since the PPAQ was last updated, advances have been made in validation methods and the new grant will incorporate these, she says.
Dr. Chasan-Taber reports that the PPAQ is currently being used by national and international researchers in 54 countries, including Bangladesh, Brazil, Germany, India, Iran, Jordan, Malaysia, Norway, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, and the U.K. It has also been translated and validated for use in Japan, China, France, Turkey, Vietnam and Portugal. Such questionnaires are the most common method for measuring physical activity among pregnant women, she points out, given the expected low compliance of pregnant women to wear an activity monitor, the need for large sample sizes, and the high cost of monitors.
She says, “Physical inactivity during pregnancy is an urgent public health concern and can lead to excessive gestational weight gain, gestational diabetes, and symptoms of postpartum depression. Therefore, it is critical that physical activity questionnaires be both valid and reliable.”
Although physical activity has been considered in previous studies of pregnancy outcome, its potential influence on preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, postpartum weight loss and postpartum anxiety has not been elucidated.
Dr. Chasan-Taber’s research has not only focused on developing and validating tools and questionnaires to accurately measure physical activity of pregnant women from diverse backgrounds, but also on identifying modifiable risk factors such as physical activity on maternal and fetal outcomes such as gestational diabetes in Hispanic women, and translating research findings into strategies to support adoption and maintenance of healthy behaviors during pregnancy among diverse populations.