ASA24® Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


General ASA24 Information


What questions and probes are used during the ASA24 recall or record interview?

The passes, questions and probes used are drawn from the United States Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Automated Multiple-Pass Method (AMPM), which has been modified to enable automated, self-administered recalls. This modification process has been documented in a published manuscriptExternal Web Site Policy. Details on the passes of the recall interview are also available.


What information is available on the validity of the ASA24 system?

The ASA24 Respondent Websites are based on USDA's interviewer-administered 24-hour dietary recall system. An abstract of the most recent evaluationExternal Web Site Policy of that tool can be viewed in PubMed. The ASA24 Evaluation & Validation web page also contains additional information about the evaluation of the ASA24 system.


How is the ASA24 system updated?

The ASA24 system is linked to the updates of the underlying databases, including AMPM, the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS), the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) Dietary Supplement Database, and the MyPyramid Equivalents or Food Pyramid Equivalents Databases (MPED/FPED). Soon after those systems are updated, NCI updates the ASA24 system.


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Transitioning Older Studies to ASA24-2016


Is there an automated method to convert studies using older versions of the ASA24 system to a study using ASA24-2016?

There is no automated method to convert a study using an older version of the ASA24 system to a study using ASA24-2016. If you want to convert a study, you must create a new study using ASA24-2016 through the Researcher website. Note, you cannot use the same abbreviation for your study unless you delete the older study.


When do I need to transition my study to ASA24-2016?

Researchers using ASA24-2014 will need to transition to ASA24-2016 by March 2017. If current studies using ASA24-2014 are expected to continue beyond March 2017, we recommend transitioning sooner rather than later, given known issues with the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in used with ASA24-2014.

NCI plans to release 2016 versions of ASA24-Kids and ASA24-Canada by the end of the calendar year. Researchers using ASA24-Kids-2014 and ASA24-Canada-2014 will need to transition to the 2016 versions by March 2017 if data collection for a study will continue beyond this date.


Can I re-use my study abbreviation from ASA24-2014 in ASA24-2016?

Study abbreviations must be unique across ASA24-2014 and ASA24-2016 studies. However, it is possible to re-use an ASA24-2014 study abbreviation in ASA24-2016 by following these steps over a two day period:

Day 1*

  • Stop data collection in ASA24-2014 before midnight
  • Request analysis files for ASA24-2014

Day 2

  • Download the analysis files for ASA24-2014
  • Download the username and password file(s)
  • Edit the username and password to conform to the import template (Note: this and the previous step can be skipped if a Researcher has the original import file(s) for an ASA24-2014 study)
  • Delete the ASA24-2014 study
  • Define new study using same abbreviation in ASA24-2016
  • Import template file(s)

* Day 1 refers to any day that a Researcher wishes to initiate this transition and Day 2 refers to the next day.


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Researcher Access


How much does it cost to use the ASA24 system?

As part of its mission to advance measures and methods for monitoring cancer-related behaviors and other risk factors, the National Cancer Institute's (NCI) Risk Factor Assessment Branch provides tools and resources to the extramural research community. Consistent with that, the ASA24 system is available for use free of charge to Researchers, clinicians, and teachers.

Costs to consider when planning a study that uses ASA24 include system and labor costs associated with uploading study details, including Respondent usernames and recall dates. Costs also are associated with contacting and monitoring Respondents, assessing data quality, and analyzing data. The labor and resources needed by Researchers and associated costs to configure and manage studies using the ASA24 system are within the purview and the responsibility of users.


How can a researcher gain access to the ASA24 system?

For ASA24-2016, ASA24-Kids-2014, and ASA24-Canada-2014 a Researcher, clinician or teacher who wishes to use the ASA24 system can visit the Researcher WebsiteExternal Web Site Policy to create an account online and register a study. All of these versions of the ASA24 system are managed using a single login page for both Researchers and Respondents. The username provided by Researchers or Respondents is the authentication key that directs the respondent to the appropriate version of the ASA24 system.

After the Researcher logs in he or she can create a study by clicking the "Create New Study" button on the left side panel on the home page and follow directions to proceed.


Which versions of the ASA24 system can be used for new studies?

Visit the NCI webpage that provides an overview of the ASA24 Respondent websites to learn more about which versions of the ASA24 system can be used for a new study.


Can I use the ASA24 system with students in a class that I am teaching?

Yes, the ASA24 system can be used as an instructional tool. Teachers or professors should register to use the ASA24 system using the same process that would be used for a study (see FAQ 2). Refer to the Researcher Instructions [PDF - 2.18 MB] for details.


Can the ASA24 system be translated to other languages and/or modified for other settings?

Yes, the ASA24 Respondent Website can be translated to other languages besides English and Spanish. However, the ASA24 system was developed for use in the U.S., and the foods included reflect those consumed by the U.S. population. Modification of the ASA24 system for use in other settings where food consumption patterns differ is feasible but requires substantial effort and funding. Please contact Dr. Amy Subar for further information.


Can the ASA24 system be downloaded onto a laptop or other electronic device?

No, the ASA24 system is a web-based program and is not downloadable to be completed offline, that is, without being connected to the internet.


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Study Design & Respondent Access


What study sample size can be accommodated by the ASA24 system?

The ASA24 system was designed to manage multiple, large epidemiologic studies simultaneously. Should a Researcher wish to use the ASA24 system for a very large study (i.e., thousands of Respondents), it is advisable to arrange the timing of recalls and records so that not all Respondents are attempting to access the system on the same days.

Information on the scheduling of recalls is detailed in the instructions available from the Researcher Website. Please contact the ASA24 Help Desk if you have a need for a high volume of concurrent users. The Researcher Website is not currently optimized to manage a large number of Respondents (more than 10,000) within a single study. Please contact the ASA24 Help Desk to discuss management strategies.


How many recalls or records can be completed by each Respondent?

Each Respondent is assigned a username as part of the study configuration process. The maximum number of recalls or records is set during study configuration. Both fully completed recalls or records and recalls or records that are started but not completed count toward the maximum.


How is Respondent confidentiality maintained within the ASA24 system?

Researchers do not provide NCI or the ASA24 system with any identifying data for study Respondents. Rather, Researchers specify a user ID for each Respondent and download system-generated usernames and encrypted passwords that Respondents use to access the application.

The ASA24 system also does not collect any identifying data directly from Respondents. However, IP address information is accessed for the purpose of routing information between the server and the Respondent's computer -- often the IP address is that of the user's Internet Service Provider (ISP). IP addresses are not stored or tracked by the ASA24 system. However, logs of connections are kept for audit trail purposes. This information is not mined in any way but would be available if there were a legal obligation to release it.


Can the ASA24 system be used as an interviewer-administered tool?

The ASA24 system was not designed for this purpose, but many Researchers are using it as a tool to guide interviewers through the administration of recalls. For example, interviewer administration of recalls might be helpful for Respondents with low literacy skills. It is advisable to have the ASA24 interface accessible to Respondents to make use of visual cues such as the portion size images.


Can the ASA24 system be adapted to a paper-based tool or used to enter recall or record data collected using a paper-based tool?

The ASA24 system was designed to collect recall and record data directly from Respondents based on USDA's Automated Multiple-Pass Method (AMPM). The recall or record is Respondent-driven in that the detailed questions asked are based on a series of linked question pathways, with questions being dependent on a previous answer (i.e., the probes used to collect details such as portion size depend on the food or drink reported [e.g., orange] and the form in which it was consumed [e.g., whole fruit, slices]).

The ASA24 system contains more than 2,824 unique detailed probe questions, almost 17,000 portion-size images, and more than 13 million food pathways. Obtaining the level of detail that the ASA24 system captures using a paper-based tool would be very challenging.


Can the ASA24 system be used to enter food record data?

Only ASA24-2016 can be used to collect food records. All previous versions collect 24-hour recalls only, and Respondents are prompted to report intake for the previous day or past 24-hours.


How will study Respondents be directed to the ASA24 system?

It is the responsibility of Researchers to contact study Respondents with information about how to access the Respondent Website and when. There is a single login page for Respondents using ASA24-2016 and ASA24-2014. The username provided by Respondents is the authentication key that directs the user to the appropriate Respondent site version.

NCI and the ASA24 Help Desk will not have access to any contact information or identifying information for Respondents.


Can study Respondents be redirected to the ASA24 Respondent Website from an existing study Website?

Yes, Respondents can be redirected from a study Website to the ASA24 Respondent Website so that they can complete their recalls or records without having to log in directly to the ASA24 system. When Respondents complete their recalls or records and exit the ASA24 system, they will be redirected back to the study Website and a completion status will be returned. In this situation, the Researcher will register the study, manage study logistics, and access analytic output files by way of the Researcher Website as they would with any ASA24 study. To find out more about this option, please contact the ASA24 Support Team. There is a nominal charge per study to set this up.


When will study participants be able to access the ASA24 system to complete their recalls or records?

It is up to the Researcher to determine the schedule for the completion of recalls or records by study Respondents. The ASA24 system will permit both scheduled and unscheduled administrations of 24-hour recalls and both consecutive and non-consecutive days of food record collections.


What should a Respondent do if they forget their username or password?

If a Respondent forgets their username or password, they should contact the research team for the study they are involved with. Researchers can manage their respondent accounts on the Researcher website. NCI and the ASA24 Help desk cannot interact or support study respondents.


How long does it take for a Respondent to complete ASA24 food recalls and food records?

Based on our system data, the average time it takes to complete an ASA24-2014 recall without supplements is 22 minutes (median = 18 minutes); with supplements it is 29 minutes (median = 25 minutes). Time to complete depends on the complexity of a Respondent's intake the previous day and how quickly he or she learns the software. With time, we will have more information about completion times for recalls and records using ASA24-2016.


Does the Spanish version of the ASA24 system (U.S. versions only) require separate registration?

No, Researchers do not need to specify the language that will be used by Respondents when registering a study. Rather, when a Respondent accesses the Respondent Website, he or she will have the option of completing recalls in either English or Spanish. Note that even though study Respondents may complete their recalls in Spanish, information on the Researcher Website, including all data in reports and analytic files, is available in English only.


Can the ASA24 system be used with children?

The ASA24 system was initially developed for use with adults. ASA24-Kids-2014, a version of the Respondent Website modified for use with school-aged children, is also available for use with children aged 10 years and older. To make the software more user-friendly and appealing for this age group, ASA24-Kids includes a shorter list of foods and beverages from which to choose based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) recall data for children. It asks fewer detailed questions about food preparation, which leads to more default coding of foods using the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS). See Registering to Use the ASA24 System for details on how to request the use of ASA24-Kids. An updated mobile children's version will be available in 2016.


Does the system allow entering recipes or saving favorites?

ASA24-2016 provides Respondents with the ability to identify favorite foods and drinks using a star icon. Older versions of the ASA24 system do not have this feature. None of the ASA24 versions has the capacity to enter recipes.


Can foods or supplements be added to the ASA24 system for a particular study?

No. the ASA24 system includes foods and drinks from the Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS) and supplements reported in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). At this time, it is not possible to add foods, drinks, or supplements to the database.


What resources are available to assist respondents in completing 24-hour recalls or food records using the ASA24 Respondent Website?

The ASA24-2016 Respondent Website includes context-specific tips and a help center with Frequently Asked Questions. Earlier versions feature an animated character that guides Respondents through the recall interview using audio and visual cues. In the 2014 versions, animated character instructions appropriate to each screen can be repeated as desired by the participant. In addition, a "help" document providing responses to frequently asked questions is available through a link at the top right corner of the Respondent Website.


Does the ASA24 system work with all common web browsers?

ASA24-2016 will work with any HTML5 compliant web browser. See https://html5test.com/results/desktop.htmlExternal Web Site Policy for more information about HTML5 compliant web browsers. The ASA24-2014 and 2011/12 versions use Microsoft's Silverlight plug-in. Silverlight is no longer being supported by Chrome. Firefox and Safari report that they will not support Silverlight by the end of 2016. To learn more about browsers and support for Silverlight, view the Systems Requirement tab on https://www.microsoft.com/getsilverlight/Get-Started/Install/Default.aspxExternal Web Site Policy.


Can the ASA24 system be accessed on a mobile device?

Respondents can complete food recalls or food records using the ASA24-2016 system on mobile devices. All earlier versions of the ASA24 system were designed for respondents to enter their food recall data using computers with a monitor size of at least 10", though greater than 13" is recommended. The Researcher website should also be accessed on computers with at least a 10" monitor.


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Output & Data Management


What analytic output files are available?

NCI plans to release a SAS program later in 2016 that will process the ASA24-2014 output files and update the nutrients and food groups to the 2011 -12 versions of FNDDS and FPED, the databases used for ASA24-2016. The ASA24-2014 analysis files are based on FNDDS 4.1 and MPED 2.0.

The following files are generated for each request for analytic output files made via the Researcher Website:

ASA24-2016
Analysis File Content Description
Responses Food and supplement names from the Quick List, probe questions and answers.
Items FNDDS Food Codes, Gram weights, MyPyramid Equivalents and HEI Whole Fruit variable for individual items
Totals Daily Total of FNDDS Food Pyramid Equivalents and HEI Whole Fruit variable from all foods for a given day
INS Individual Supplements Analysis File – Supplement Codes with their nutrients – keeping only those nutrients which are related to the FNDDS
TS Daily Total Supplements Analysis File – total nutrients from all supplements reported in a given day – keeping only those ingredients which are related to the FNDDS
TNS Daily Total Nutrients from Foods and Supplements Analysis File – FNDDS nutrients from all foods and supplements reported in a given day
ASA24-2014, ASA24-Kids-2104, ASA24-Canada-2014, ASA24-2011, ASA24-Kids-2012
Analysis File Content Description
MS MySelections Analysis File - Food and supplement names from the Quick List, probe questions and answers.
INF Individual Foods Analysis File – FNDDS food codes, gram weights and nutrients for each food reported
TN Daily Total Nutrients Analysis File - FNDDS nutrients from all foods in a given day for each recall
INFMYPHEI Individual Foods MyPyramid HEI Analysis File – FNDDS Food Codes, Gram weights, MyPyramid Equivalents and HEI Whole Fruit variable
TNMYPHEI Daily Total Nutrients MyPyramid HEI Analysis File – FNDDS MyPyramid Equivalents and HEI Whole Fruit variable from all foods in a given day
INS Individual Supplements Analysis File – Supplement Codes with their nutrients – keeping only those nutrients which are related to the FNDDS. This file is only relevant if the Supplement module has been turned on for the study.
TS Daily Total Supplements Analysis File – total nutrients from all supplements reported in a given day – keeping only those ingredients which are related to the FNDDS This file is only relevant if the Supplement module has been turned on for the study.

What nutrients and food groups are included in the analytic files?

For studies using ASA24-2016, analyses are provided for all nutrients available in FNDDS 2011-12External Web Site Policy and food groups included in FPED 2011-12External Web Site Policy. ASA24-2014, ASA24-Kids-2014, ASA24-2011 and ASA24-Kids-2012, analyses are provided for all nutrients available in FNDDS version 4.1External Web Site Policy and food groups included in MPEDExternal Web Site Policy. ASA24-Canada-2014 was adapted for use in Canada and used the Canadian Nutrient File (CNF) as the basis for nutrient variables. MyPyramid Equivalents, not available for ASA24-Canada-2014, are based on version 2.0 of the USDA's MyPyramid Equivalents Database (MPED) supplemented with the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion's MPED Addendum to allow compatibility with FNDDS 4.1; nutritionists on the ASA24 team imputed values for nine food codes for which MyPyramid Equivalents have not yet been assigned by USDA. Sample analytic files and data dictionaries are available from the Researcher Website.


Can data for other nutrients be added to the ASA24 system?

The analytic output files available for download from the Researcher Website include data on food type and quantity as well as Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS) food codes. Researchers can link these data with external sources to perform further analyses beyond those available within the ASA24 system. The capability to add nutrients within the ASA24 system may be possible in the future.


What fortified foods and supplements are included in the ASA24 system?

Respondents can select fortified foods that are included in FNDDS for U.S. versions and the CNF for Canadian version, and supplements reported in NHANES 2011-12.


Does the ASA24 system assess usual salt use?

The ASA24 system does not ask specifically about salt use. However, most of the dietary sodium in the U.S. diet comes from processed food that is captured by the ASA24 system. A report from USDA [PDF]External Web Site Policy indicates that the Automated Multiple-Pass Method (AMPM), which is the basis for the ASA24 system, provides valid sodium intake estimates without application of adjustments to account for salt added during cooking and food preparation. For this reason, a salt intake module querying about salt use is not planned for the ASA24 system.


What processing do recall data entered into the ASA24 system by Respondents undergo?

Recall data are coded using the nutrient, food, and supplement databases noted in the list of available analytic files. No other processing or quality control measures are conducted. As with any data collection initiative, Researchers should carefully assess the quality of the data collected from their study Respondents. To assist Researchers in this effort, output files include a flag to indicate whether each recall or record was completed (i.e., whether the Respondent completed the program up to and including the last question).

However, "incomplete" recalls or records may be deemed acceptable by a Researcher depending upon how far the Respondent made it in the program and what data are missing (e.g., in the food module, details on portion size versus a response to the final question which queries whether the amount of food consumed yesterday was usual). A Researcher also may wish to exclude a recall or record coded as "complete" by the ASA24 system because the data entered by the Respondent are of poor quality.

The output files also include details of items entered by the Respondent that could not be found (i.e., "no match found") to enable Researchers to assign or modify codes outside of the ASA24 system. Recalculation of nutrient or food group intakes to account for revised or newly assigned food codes can be done outside of the ASA24 system using FNDDS or any other source available to Researchers.


Does ASA24 output include Healthy Eating Index (HEI) scores?

U.S. versions of the ASA24 system include output with the variables needed to calculate HEI-2010 scores and SAS programs to accomplish this. The HEI is a tool to assess compliance with U.S. dietary guidance; more information on the HEI is available on the HEI webpages.


Once a study has been approved and data collection is underway, when can the Researcher access analytic output files?

Once data collection is underway, the Researcher can visit the Researcher Website at any time to generate analyses files. Typically, Researchers will be prompted to return to log in to the system the following day to access results in the analytic files. In some settings (e.g., clinical or classroom uses), Researchers may wish to obtain real-time reports for a specific individual; this type of request will take approximately 10 minutes to process. Output files do not have specific formatting for the lay public.


Who will be able to request and access analytic output files?

The Researcher and any staff who have been associated with the study (and who therefore have a valid username and password for the ASA24 Researcher Website) will be able to request and access analytic output for their Respondents.


Can the software provide feedback to study Respondents?

No, the ASA24 system does not currently provide any direct feedback to Respondents. Researchers may use the analytic output files available for download to design reports for Respondents outside of ASA24. A Respondent Report that will allow Researchers to choose to provide tailored feedback on nutrient and food group intake to Respondents is under development for ASA24-2016.


What security measures are in place to protect recall data entered into the ASA24 system and resulting tracking and analytic files?

The ASA24 system does not ask for nor store any personal identifying information. Response data are secured at the hosting site using industry standard security controls, including firewalls and encryption. All data entered into the ASA24 system at the Respondent's computer are encrypted by the internet browser (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox) before they are transmitted to our servers using Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Technology. SSL permits authentication of the sending and receiving computers.

Only a particular study's investigator(s) and the ASA24 operations team can access response data. Access is gained through usernames and strong passwords.


How long will data remain accessible from the ASA24 Researcher Website following the completion of a study?

Data are maintained in the system for a period of at least one year (unless the Researcher requests an earlier date for data purging). Researchers will be notified before their data are removed from the system.


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Citing the ASA24 System in Publications & Presentations


What is the recommended citation for the ASA24 system?

In order to show and maintain support for the ASA24 system, documenting its use through publications is extremely useful to NCI. Please cite the ASA24 system as follows, depending on the version used in your study:

  • Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Recall (ASA24)-Beta-2009. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute.
  • Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Recall (ASA24)-2011. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute.
  • Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Recall (ASA24)-Kids-2012. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute.
  • Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Recall (ASA24)-2014. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute.
  • Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Recall (ASA24)-Kids-2014. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute.
  • Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Recall (ASA24)-Canada-2014. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute.
  • Automated Self-Administered 24-Hour Recall (ASA24)-2016. Bethesda, MD: National Cancer Institute.

You may also consider including the following sentence in your manuscript: Dietary intake data were collected and analyzed using the Automated Self-Administered 24-hour Recall (ASA24®) system, version (insert version here), developed by the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD.


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ASA24 is a registered trademark of HHS.