Public Health Nutrition

Assessment and methodology

Feasibility of innovative dietary assessment in epidemiological studies using the approach of combining different assessment instruments

Anne-Kathrin Illnera1 p1 c1, Ulrich Harttiga1, Gianluca Tognona2a3, Domenico Pallia2, Simonetta Salvinia2, Eugenia Bowera4, Pilar Amianoa4, Taie Kassika5, Andres Metspalua5, Dagrun Engeseta6, Eiliv Lunda6, Heather Warda7, Nadia Slimania8, Manuela Bergmanna1, Karen Wagnera1 and Heiner Boeinga1

a1 Department of Epidemiology, German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbruecke, Nuthetal, Germany

a2 Molecular and Nutritional Epidemiology Unit, Cancer Prevention and Research Institute (ISPO), Florence, Italy

a3 Public Health Epidemiology Unit, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden

a4 Public Health Division of Gipuzkoa, San Sebastian, Basque Government, CIBER Epidemiology and Public Health, CIBERESP, Spain

a5 University of Tartu and Estonian Biocentre, Tartu, Estonia

a6 Department of Community Medicine, University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway

a7 Department of Public Health and Primary Care, MRC Centre for Nutritional Epidemiology in Cancer Prevention and Survival, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

a8 Dietary Exposure Assessment Group, International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO, Lyon, France


Objective To assess the feasibility of combining short-term and long-term dietary assessment instruments as new concept for improving usual dietary intake assessment on the individual level.

Design Feasibility study of completing three 24 h dietary recalls (24-HDR) and a self-administered food propensity questionnaire (FPQ). The 24-HDR was conducted by monthly telephone interviews, using EPIC-SOFT software. The FPQ was completely standardized across cohorts and offered either as a web-based tool or in paper format.

Setting Random sample derived from five ongoing European cohort studies (EPIC-San Sebastian, EPIC-Florence, EPIC-Potsdam, Estonia Genome Center (EGC) and Norwegian Women and Cancer study (NOWAC)).

Subjects A total of 400 participants.

Results Overall, the total participation rate for the present study was 65·3 % (n 261). On average, completion of the 24-HDR was highest for the first 24-HDR (63·0 %) and decreased slightly for the second (60·3 %) and third 24-HDR (56·3 %). The proportions of selecting the web-based FPQ varied among the study centres, with the highest in EGC (92·9 %) and NOWAC (70·0 %) and the lowest in EPIC-San Sebastian (25·5 %) and EPIC-Potsdam (33·9 %). Web users rarely requested support and were younger and more highly educated than those who completed the paper format.

Conclusions The present study supports the feasibility of a combined application of three 24-HDR and an FPQ in culturally different populations. The varying acceptance of the web-based instrument across populations requires a flexible application of assessment instruments.

(Received April 07 2010)

(Accepted November 23 2010)

(Online publication March 09 2011)


c1 Corresponding author: Email

p1 Present affiliation and correspondence address: Dietary Exposure Assessment Group, International Agency for Research on Cancer, WHO, 150 Cours Albert Thomas, Lyon 69372, France