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Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2011 May;43(5):922-9. doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181fdcc25.

Identifying group-sensitive physical activities: a differential item functioning analysis of NHANES data.

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Department of Kinesiology, Boise State University, Boise, ID 83725, USA.



The purpose of this study was to identify subgroup-sensitive physical activities (PA) using differential item functioning (DIF) analysis.


A sub-unweighted sample of 1857 (men=923 and women=934) from the 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey PA questionnaire data was used for the analyses. Using the Mantel-Haenszel, the simultaneous item bias test, and the ANOVA DIF methods, 33 specific leisure-time moderate and/or vigorous PA (MVPA) items were analyzed for DIF across race/ethnicity, gender, education, income, and age groups.


Many leisure-time MVPA items were identified as large DIF items. When participating in the same amount of leisure-time MVPA, non-Hispanic blacks were more likely to participate in basketball and dance activities than non-Hispanic whites (NHW); NHW were more likely to participated in golf and hiking than non-Hispanic blacks; Hispanics were more likely to participate in dancing, hiking, and soccer than NHW, whereas NHW were more likely to engage in bicycling, golf, swimming, and walking than Hispanics; women were more likely to participate in aerobics, dancing, stretching, and walking than men, whereas men were more likely to engage in basketball, fishing, golf, running, soccer, weightlifting, and hunting than women; educated persons were more likely to participate in jogging and treadmill exercise than less educated persons; persons with higher incomes were more likely to engage in golf than those with lower incomes; and adults (20-59 yr) were more likely to participate in basketball, dancing, jogging, running, and weightlifting than older adults (60+ yr), whereas older adults were more likely to participate in walking and golf than younger adults.


DIF methods are able to identify subgroup-sensitive PA and thus provide useful information to help design group-sensitive, targeted interventions for disadvantaged PA subgroups.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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