A Comparison of Two Methods to Assess Mobile Hand-Held Communication Device Use

S Berolo, I Steenstra, BC Amick Iii, RP Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The purposes of this study were to: 1) examine agreement between self-reported measures of mobile device use and direct measures of use, and 2) understand how respondents thought about their device use when they provided self-reports. Self-reports of six categories of device use were obtained using a previously developed questionnaire, and direct measures of use were collected using a custom logging application (n = 47). Bland-Altman analyses were used to examine agreement between the two measurement approaches. Interviews targeted participants' experiences completing the device use section of the questionnaire. Self-reports of use on a typical day last week overestimated logged use. Overestimates tended to be low at low average usage times, and became more variable as usage time increased. Self-reports of use yesterday also exceeded logged use, however the degree of overestimation was less than for a typical day last week. Six themes were identified from interviews, including the thought process used by participants to arrive at usage and the ease of reporting usage. It is challenging for respondents of this questionnaire to provide accurate self-reports of use. The source of this challenge may be attributed to the intrinsic difficulty of estimating use, partly due to the multiple functions of the devices as well as the variability of use both within a day and a week. Research investigating the relationship between device use and health outcomes should include a logging application to examine exposure simultaneously with self-reports to better understand the sources of hazardous exposures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-285
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of occupational and environmental hygiene
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • hand-held
  • communication devices


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