Considerations for Using the ASA24® Dietary Assessment Tool

Since the release of a Beta version in 2009, the ASA24 system has been used by thousands of Researchers conducting studies in multiple settings. Through our support of Researchers, the NCI has gained insights into best practices for implementation, as well as common issues encountered by study Respondents.

A key factor in successfully using the ASA24 system is how well study staff who have direct contact with Respondents know the tool themselves. The more familiar study staff are with the ASA24 system, the more helpful they can be to Respondents. We recommend that study staff spend a significant amount of time completing multiple ASA24 recalls or records (this can be done using the Demonstration versionExternal Web Site Policy or by utilizing the DemoUser account after a study has been setup as described in the Researcher Instructions) and in the process, select many different foods, drinks and supplements (if applicable) and use all available actions prior to fielding a study. In the Demonstration version websiteExternal Web Site Policy, the optional Respondent Nutrition Report feature is turned on and the report can be viewed after a 24-hour recall has been entered.

Although not essential, if your study design includes in-person contact with Respondents prior to their completion of food recalls or records using the ASA24 system, it can be helpful to orient them to the software through completion of a practice recall or record using the demonstration version in an environment where study staff are available to answer questions.

Common Issues Encountered by Study Respondents

(Note that these issues are also summarized in a Troubleshooting Guide for Study Staff, available from the Resources for Study Staff and Respondents section of this Website.)

  1. Issues getting started
    • Usernames and Passwords: Strong passwords can be difficult for Respondents to remember and to type accurately. They may also misplace or lose usernames and passwords provided to them. Strong but meaningful and easier to remember passwords can be specified by Researchers when setting up user accounts on the Researcher Website. See the Researcher Instructions (2014/2016 [PDF - 1.95 MB], 2011-12 [PDF]External Web Site Policy), for more information. Researchers can encourage Respondents to copy and paste usernames and passwords from an e-mail with instructions for completing ASA24 food recalls or records.
    • Use of Mobile Devices and Smartphone: With the release of ASA24-2016, ASA24-Canada-2016, and ASA24-Australia-2016, Respondents can complete ASA24 food recalls or records on all types of mobile devices. However, earlier versions will not run on a smartphone, iPad or other tablet.
  2. Issues Using Software after Login -- 2016 version only
    • Internet Browsers: The 2016 versions of the ASA24 system are HTML5 applications and must be used with an HTML5 compatible internet browsers. See Web Site Policy for information on compatible browsers by platform and device type.
  3. Issues after Completion:
    • The ASA24 system includes many prompts to help Respondents recall or report everything they ate and drank the previous day or in real time, including a forgotten foods checklist and a final review. However, sometimes Respondents remember a food or drink they consumed after the recall or record has already been completed. Once the participant indicates that he or she is done with the recall, it is closed and the participant cannot log back in to modify the data. For food records, Respondents have 24-hours beyond the last record day to log in and make changes to any day within the record. The recall or record will also close out once the reporting period (selected by the Researcher) lapses. If the forgotten food or drink is reported to the study staff, the item can be entered in a separate recall or record and the nutrient and food group values added to the original output from the participant's recall or record outside of the ASA24 system. Note, in this situation, the "foodnum" and "codenum" variables will need to be adjusted in the output analytic file(s).

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