ASA24
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 manuscript. 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 evaluation 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 are the ASA24 system database files updated?

The U.S. versions of the ASA24 system are 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 Patterns Equivalents Databases (MPED/FPED). The Canadian version of the ASA24 system will be updated when a new version of the Canadian Nutrient File (CNF) is available and will take into consideration updates to the U.S. databases if applicable.


What documentation is available for Researchers interested in using the ASA24 system?

NCI has created extensive documentation which is available on this ASA24 website and Principal Investigators and study staff are encouraged to spend time reviewing this website before starting to use ASA24 for research, clinical, or educational purposes.

There are a number of downloadable resources documenting various key aspects of the ASA24 system, including:

  • Information for Researchers proposing to use the ASA24 system in their studies who are required to describe the tool in funding and/or ethics applications.
  • Researcher Instructions, which provide step-by-step instructions for setting up a study.
  • Participant Help Guides, which describe the steps for completing 24-hour recalls or food records.
  • Sample Analysis Files and Data Dictionaries, which describe each output file from the ASA24 system.

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Researcher Access


How much does it cost to use the ASA24 system?

Please see our webpage with information about costs associated with using the ASA24 system.


Who will need access to the ASA24 Researcher Website to manage a study?

Study staff managing study logistics, overseeing Respondent progress, and requesting reports and analysis files will need a username and password to access the Researcher Website. The Researcher who created the study can add or remove study staff at any time by logging into the Researcher Website, selecting a study and editing the study details. Usernames and passwords will automatically be emailed to staff who are added to a study.


How can a researcher gain access to the ASA24 system?

A researcher, clinician or teacher who wishes to use the ASA24 system must 1) visit the Researcher Website to create an account online and then 2) set up a new study or new studies.

To create an account, the following basic information must be provided: name, organization, phone number, and email address. Individuals creating an account must also read and accept the ASA24 Researcher Agreement.

An email with a temporary password will be sent to the Researcher. After logging in to the Researcher Website for the first time, a new password must be created before a new study can be registered.


How can a researcher test or pilot the ASA24 system?

There are three ways to test the ASA24 system:

  1. Interested users can complete an ASA24-2018 recall using the Respondent demonstration (demo) version without a username or password. The U.S. recall can be completed in English or Spanish. Note that the demo version does not provide analysis file output.
  2. Access to the full ASA24 system requires a Researcher to create a user account, register a study, and create at least one Respondent account (i.e., username and password). When at least one study demo account is created, Researchers can use the demo account to familiarize themselves with the Respondent experience and to verify study settings made via the Respondent Website during study setup. Data entered using the demo account will not be saved and will not appear in output analysis files.
  3. To extensively test the ASA24 system, including viewing output analysis files, Researchers can set up test user accounts by specifying Study IDs for testing purposes. It is important to ensure that these test Study IDs can be distinguished from valid Respondent IDs in the output files so that they can be deleted prior to study analyses.

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

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


How will the ASA24 system help monitor my study’s progress?

Researchers can visit the Researcher Website to view and download data on Respondents’ activity. This includes the number of completed intakes per Respondent and for scheduled recall study types, the date of the next scheduled recall. Tracking data can be filtered by intake status and a specific date range.


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 - 1.95 MB] for details.


Can I use the ASA24 system with patients in a clinical setting?

Yes, the ASA24 system can be used to help a clinician analyze energy, nutrient, and food group intakes in patients. Clinicians 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 for details.

It may be helpful for both clinicians and patients to receive a Respondent Nutrition Report after completing their recall or food record. This is an option that can be turned on when you set up your account. Note that for food records, only the clinician can view the Respondent Nutrition Report (in the Researcher website). The clinician can then share this report with the patient as desired. If this option is turned on and patients complete a 24-hour recall, the patient receives the report immediately after completing their recall. It is also available in the Researcher website for the clinician.

Another benefit of using the ASA24 system with patients is automatic nutrient analysis and food group information that can be accessed by the clinician via the Researcher Website after a recall or food record has been completed.


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. A Respondent must be connected to the internet to complete a record or recall.


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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. Currently, the system can support up to 300 Respondents entering data at any one time, though increased capacity is expected in 2019. 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 concurrently.

Please contact the ASA24 Help Desk if you have a need for a high volume of concurrent users 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 by the Researcher during study configuration. Both fully completed recalls or records and recalls or records that are started but not completed count toward the maximum. This parameter can be changed after a study has begun.


How is Respondent confidentiality maintained within the ASA24 system?

Please see our webpage with more information about Respondent confidentiality.


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.

It is possible to enter information collected on a paper-based tool into the ASA24 system to calculate nutrient or food group intakes. However, details regarding intake may be lost by not having Respondents answer all the detailed questions in the system. There is an additional burden of identifying a tool to collect written data, administering it, and then entering data from it, be it a recall or record, into the ASA24 system. If paper-based tools are being considered because there are concerns for accessibility to reliable internet or low-literacy, a Researcher could consider interviewer-administration of ASA24 in an environment where the Respondents have access to a screen and prompts.


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

The 2016 and 2018 versions of the ASA24 system can be used to collect food records. All previous versions collected 24-hour recalls only, and in those versions, Respondents were prompted to report intake for the previous day or the past 24 hours.


How will study Respondents be directed to the ASA24 system?

It is the responsibility of Researchers to contact study Respondents to provide the URL for the Respondent Website, usernames, and passwords to acess the site, and dates to complete their recalls or records. NCI has no access to any contact or personally identifiable information for study 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. To find out more about the single sign-on option, please view our webpage with information about costs associated with using ASA24. 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 with or support study respondents. NCI and the ASA24 Help Desk does not have access to any contact information or personally identifiable information for Respondents.


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

Data from usage of the 2016 version in the United States indicates that the median time for Respondents to complete a 24-hour recall is 24 minutes. The majority of Respondents complete their 24-hour recall in 17 to 34 minutes. Our data indicate that it typically takes 2 to 3 minutes longer for a Respondent to complete his/her first recall compared to subsequent recalls.


Is ASA24 available in multiple languages?

The U.S. version of ASA24 is available in English and Spanish. ASA24-Canada is available in English and French. ASA24-Australia is available in English only. ASA24 can be translated into other languages; however, this requires additional funding. Researchers interested in translations should contact the ASA24 Help Desk.


Do the Spanish (U.S. version only) or French (Canadian 2016 version only) versions of the ASA24 system 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 languages available for that version. Regardless of the language used to complete the recall, 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 (no longer available), was a version of the Respondent Website modified for use with school-aged children, aged 10 years and older. However, this version is no longer available. New studies with children respondents should use the most current version of ASA24.


Does the system allow entering recipes or saving favorites?

The 2016 and 2018 versions of the ASA24 system provide Respondents with the ability to identify favorite foods and drinks using a star icon. Older versions of the ASA24 system did not have this feature.

The 2018 version of ASA24 has the capacity for Respondents to report, edit, and save 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 kind of training do Respondents need for completing 24-hour recalls or food records using the ASA24 Respondent Website?

The Respondent Website was designed to be intuitive to ensure accurate self-reporting by the general population, so no additional training is required.

However, 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 Respondent Website by having them complete a practice recall or record using the demo version in an environment where study staff are available to answer questions.

The 2016 and 2018 versions of the ASA24 Respondent Website also include context-specific tips and a help center with Frequently Asked Questions. There are also instructional materials available that Researchers can download and send to Respondents before they complete a food recall or record and/or share with their study staff to help answer Respondents' questions.


Does the ASA24 system work with all common web browsers?

The 2018 and 2016 versions of the ASA24 system 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.


Can the ASA24 system be accessed on a mobile device?

Respondents can complete food recalls or food records using the 2016 or 2018 versions of the ASA24 system on mobile devices. The Researcher website should be accessed on computers with at least a 10" monitor.


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Output & Data Management


How can I harmonize data files from previous versions of ASA24 when I switch to an ASA24-2018 version?

Data from the 2018 and 2016 versions can easily be harmonized.  Both are based on FNDDS 2011-12 though ASA24-2018 contains some additional foods from FNDDS 2013-14. Nutrient and food group database variables did not change between ASA24-2016 and ASA24-2018, therefore, no conversion code is required for harmonization. However, while the nutrient variables and units have not changed between these versions of ASA24, there have been updates to the underlying Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS). This may result in some slight variation in actual nutrient and food group amounts due to updates to the data.


What analytic output files are available?

Please see our webpage with sample analysis files and data dictionaries.


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

There are 65 nutrients and 37 food groups included in the nutrient analysis of ASA24 recall and record data for U.S. and Canadian versions. Analyses for ASA24-Australia-2016 provide 41 nutrients and no food groups.

See our web page on Nutrient and Food Group Analysis for more details on the nutrients and food group equivalents contained in ASA24-2016 and ASA24-2018.

More information on the nutrient and food group databases for all versions of ASA24 is available on our webpage comparing all versions of ASA24. Sample analytic files for nutrients and food groups, as well as data dictionaries, are available on 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.


Does the ASA24 system assess usual salt use?

The ASA24 system does not specifically ask about salt use in food preparation or added during eating occasions. This is because most of the dietary sodium in the U.S. diet comes from processed foods, rather than from salt use during food preparation.

A report from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) [PDF] indicated that the Automated Multiple-Pass Method (AMPM), which is the methodology used for the ASA24 system, provided valid sodium intake estimates without asking about salt in food preparation or at the table. As a result, questions about salt intake are not asked in ASA24. The USDA's FNDDS nutrient database associated with ASA24 assumes that some salt is added in the preparation of foods like cooked vegetables and meats regardless of whether or not a person actually added it during food preparation.

Therefore, clinicians and other users should note that sodium intake estimates from ASA24 files and in the Respondent Nutrition Report might appear higher than expected because they assume salt is added in cooking for foods such as vegetables and meat. If sodium values appear elevated in system outputs, clinicians using ASA24 should discuss cooking methods and food sources with patients for whom sodium intake is a concern to estimate true sodium intake in that individual.


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

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, missing details on portion size versus a missing 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?

All U.S. versions of the ASA24 system, and ASA24-Canada-2016, include output with the variables needed to calculate HEI-2010 and the HEI 2015 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.


When can the Researcher access nutrition analysis files?

Once data collection is underway, the Researcher can visit the Researcher Website at any time to generate analyses files. However, when the analysis files will be generated and ready to download depends on what version the study is using and when the study was created.

Researchers of ASA24-2016 studies created before June 1, 2018 make the request to generate the files and then retrieve them the next morning. These Researchers have an option to request an “instant” report to generate analysis output for last intake day for an individual Respondent. Instant reports will be ready to download in approximately 10 minutes.

Researchers of all ASA24-2018 studies and ASA24-2016 studies created on or after June 1, 2018, make the request for files and can retrieve them moments later.


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?

The U.S. version of ASA24-2016 and ASA24-2018 includes an option for Researchers to provide Respondents completing recalls or records with Respondent Nutrition Reports. This is an optional module that Researchers can select during study registration. More information on Respondent Nutrition Reports is available. The Respondent Nutrition Report can also be viewed after completion of a 24-hour recall in the ASA24 demonstration site.

Earlier versions of ASA24, ASA24-Canada-2016, and ASA24-Australia-2016 do 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.


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

Please refer to our webpage with information about the confidentiality of Respondent data.


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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Transitioning Older Studies to ASA24-2018


Is there an automated method to convert studies using older versions of the ASA24 system to a study using ASA24-2018?

There is no automated method to convert a study using an older version of the ASA24 system to a study using ASA24-2018. If you want to convert a study, you must create a new study using ASA24-2018 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 ASA24-2018?

Researchers using the U.S. version of ASA24-2016 should transition to ASA24-2018 by January 15, 2020. Studies using older U.S. versions of ASA24 that need to continue collecting data beyond January 15, 2020 must do so using ASA24-2018.


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

Study abbreviations must be unique across ASA24-2016 and ASA24-2018. However, it is possible to re-use ASA24-2016 in ASA24-2018 by following these steps over a two day period:

Day 1*

  • Stop data collection in ASA24-2016 before midnight
  • Request analysis files for ASA24-2016

Day 2

  • Download the analysis files for ASA24-2016
  • 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 ASA24-2016 study)
  • Delete the ASA24-2016 study
  • Define new study using same abbreviation in ASA24-2018
  • 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.


What should I consider when I transition to the 2018 version of ASA24?

Although the flow of the ASA24 interview is nearly identical to previous versions, the user interface for ASA24-2018 includes a recipe module and some new foods, so you should consider any potential influence of the introduction of these changes on your findings.

Also, as a result of adding a limited number of foods, beverages and supplements from FNDDS and DSD 2013-14 to ASA24-2018, ASA24-2016 and 2018 are slightly different.  Both rely primarily on FNDDS 2011-12 and therefore are not directly comparable (see a table comparing the different versions of ASA24).


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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 the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

To achieve this, we invite investigators to include the following sentence in the methods section of their manuscripts: Dietary intake data for (24-hour recalls OR food records) were collected and analyzed using the Automated Self-Administered 24-hour (ASA24) Dietary Assessment Tool, version (YEAR), developed by the National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD.

Additionally, when citing the ASA24 system, please use either the ASA24 website (https://epi.grants.cancer.gov/asa24) or one of our development or evaluation publications.


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