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Objective: Stage assessments are examined to develop and test refined measurements that can be used for classifying individuals.

Design: Stages were assessed in 1,850 persons in terms of their physical activity and dietary behaviors.

Main Outcome Measures: Stages for both behaviors were compared to behavior and other test variables. Misclassification, sensitivity, specificity, receiver-operation-curves, and discontinuity patterns were computed. Discontinuity patterns were tested with trends across stages and planned contrasts between adjacent stages.

Results: In comparison to previous studies, sensitivity (70% to 80%) and specificity (80% to 87%) were high. When using lower level criteria (such as less intensive activity), sensitivity was lower, whereas specificity was higher. When behavioral maintenance was assessed, results suggested that the temporal cut-off point between action and maintenance was equally optimal at different cut-off points. Applying contrast analyses, nonlinear trends across the stages and a match of 87% of predictions of stage differences resulted.

Conclusion: Stage assumptions are supported in general, and refined stage assessment in particular. Levels of psychological variables (e.g., easiness, habit) may discriminate stages as well as or even better than temporal stage definitions.



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