Wide Disagreement Between Alternative Assessments of Premorbid Physical Activity: Subjective Patient and Surrogate Reports and Objective Smartphone Data

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Surrogate-decision maker and patient self-reported estimates of the distances walked prior to acute illness are subjective and may be imprecise. It may be possible to extract objective data from a patient’s smartphone, specifically, step and global position system data, to quantify physical activity. The objectives were to 1) assess the agreement between surrogate-decision maker and patient self-reported estimates of distance and time walked prior to resting and daily step-count and 2) determine the feasibility of extracting premorbid physical activity (step and global position system) data from critically ill patients.


Prospective cohort study.


Quaternary ICU.


Fifty consecutively admitted adult patients who owned a smartphone, who were ambulatory at baseline, and who remained in ICU for more than 48 hours participated.

Measurments and Main Results:

There was no agreement between patients and surrogates for all premorbid walking metrics (mean bias 108% [99% lower to 8,700% higher], 83% [97% to 2,100%], and 71% [96% to 1,080%], for distance, time, and steps, respectively). Step and/or global position system data were successfully extracted from 24 of 50 phones (48%; 95% CI, 35–62%). Surrogate-decision makers, but not patient self-reported, estimates of steps taken per day correlated with smartphone data (surrogates: n = 13, ρ = 0.56, p < 0.05; patients: n = 13, ρ = 0.30, p = 0.317).


There was a lack of agreement between surrogate-decision maker and patient self-reported subjective estimates of distance walked. Obtaining premorbid physical activity data from the current-generation smartphones was feasible in approximately 50% of patients.

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