- General ASA24 Information
- Transitioning Older Studies to ASA24-2016 and ASA24-Canada
- Researcher Access
- Study Design & Respondent Access
- Output & Data Management
- Citing the ASA24 System in Publications & Presentations
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 Pyramid Equivalents Databases (MPED/FPED). Soon after those systems are updated, NCI updates the ASA24 system. 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.
Transitioning Older Studies to ASA24-2016 and ASA24-Canada-2016
Is there an automated method to convert studies using older versions of the ASA24 system to a study using ASA24-2016 and ASA24-Canada-2016?
There is no automated method to convert a study using an older version of the ASA24 system to a study using ASA24-2016 or ASA24-Canada-2016. If you want to convert a study, you must create a new study using ASA24-2016 or ASA24-Canada-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 or ASA24-Canada-2016?
Researchers using ASA24-2014, ASA24-Kids-2011 ASA24-Kids-2014 or ASA24-Canada-2014 will need to transition to ASA24-2016 or ASA24-Canada-2016 by March 2017. If current studies using older versions are expected to continue beyond March 2017, we recommend transitioning sooner rather than later, given that the Microsoft Silverlight plug-in used with versions earlier than 2016 is no longer supported by the Chrome browser and will no longer be supported by other popular browsers in the near future.
There are currently no funds to develop a 2016 version for children Researchers using ASA24-Kids-2012, 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. Data for children can be collected using ASA24-2016.
Can I re-use my study abbreviation from ASA24-2014 or ASA24-Canada-2014 in ASA24-2016 or ASA24-Canada-2016?
Study abbreviations must be unique across ASA24-2014 and ASA24-2016, and across ASA24-Canada-2014 and ASA24-Canada-2016 studies. However, it is possible to re-use ASA24-2014 and ASA24-Canada-2014 study abbreviations in ASA24-2016 and ASA24-Canada-2016 by following these steps over a two day period:
- Stop data collection in ASA24-2014 or ASA24-Canada-2014 before midnight
- Request analysis files for ASA24-2014
- Download the analysis files for ASA24-2014 or ASA24-Canada 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 or ASA24-Canada-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.
What should I consider when I transition to the 2016 version of ASA24?
Although the flow of the ASA24 interview is similar to previous versions, the user interface for ASA24-2016 has been redesigned, so you should consider any potential influence of the introduction of this change on your findings.
Also, as a result of updates to the underlying nutrient and food group databases, data collected using versions prior to ASA24-2016 are not directly comparable (see a table comparing the different versions of ASA24). By April 2017, guidance and SAS code will be made available to update analytic files from ASA24-2014/2012/2011 versions, which used Food and Nutrient Database for Dietary Studies (FNDDS) 4.1 and an updated MyPyramid Equivalents Database (MPED), while ASA24-2016 uses FNDDS 2011-12 and the Food Patterns Equivalents Database (FPED) 2011-12. It is not possible to rerun ASA24-2014/2012/2011 Respondent data using ASA24-2016.
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-Canada-2016, and ASA24-Australia-2016, and ASA24-Kids-2014, a researcher, clinician or teacher who wishes to use the ASA24 system can visit the Researcher Website to create an account online and register a study.
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 the directions to proceed.
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.
Can I use the ASA24 system with students in a class that I am teaching?
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 [PDF - 1.95 MB] for details. It may be helpful for both clinicians and patients to receive a Respondent Nutrition Report after completing their recall (not yet available for food records). This is an option that can be turned on when you set up your account. In addition to the Respondent Nutrition Report, another benefit of using the ASA24 system with your 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.
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 Researcher Instructions. 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. This parameter can be changed after a study has begun.
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.
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?
Only the 2016 versions of the ASA24 system can be used to collect food records. All previous versions collect 24-hour recalls only, and in those versions, Respondents are 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 with information about how and when to access the Respondent Website. There is a single login page for Respondents using the 2016 and 2014 versions of the ASA24 system. The username entered by Respondents is the authentication key that directs the user to the appropriate Respondent site version.
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. 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 with or support study respondents. NCI and the ASA24 Help Desk does not have access to any contact information or identifying information for 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 the supplement module 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. Data from usage of the new ASA24-2016 system in the United States indicates that the median time for Respondents to complete their first recall is 28 minutes. For subsequent recalls, the median time to completion is 24 minutes.
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. Note that even though study Respondents may complete their recalls in Spanish or French, 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. Funding is not currently available to create a mobile accessible version such as ASA24-2016. New studies with children respondents should use ASA24-2016.
Does the system allow entering recipes or saving favorites?
The 2016 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 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 2016 versions of the ASA24 Respondent Website include 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. Quick start guides for the 2014 and 2016 versions are available.
Does the ASA24 system work with all common web browsers?
The 2016 versions of the ASA24 system will work with any HTML5 compliant web browser. See https://html5test.com/results/desktop.html 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.aspx.
Can the ASA24 system be accessed on a mobile device?
Respondents can complete food recalls or food records using the 2016 versions of the ASA24 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.
Output & Data Management
How can I harmonize data files from previous versions of ASA24 when I switch to an ASA24-2016 version?
NCI plans to release a SAS program in 2017 that will process the ASA24-2014 output files and update the nutrients and food groups to the most current databases used in the ASA24-2016 versions. For reference, the ASA24-2014 analysis files are based on FNDDS 4.1 and MPED 2.0, while the ASA24-2016 analysis files are based on the 2011 -12 versions of FNDDS and FPED. ASA24-Canada-2014 and ASA24-Canada-2016 are based on the same nutrient database (Canadian Nutrient File) but only the 2016 version includes food groups (drawn from FPED).
What analytic output files are available?
The files noted below are generated for each request for analytic output files made via the Researcher Website. Sample analysis files and data dictionaries are also available.ASA24-2016, ASA24-Canada-2016, and ASA24-Australia-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|
|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?
There are 65 nutrients and 37 food groups included in the nutrient analysis of ASA24 recall and record data.
Analyses for studies using the 2016 versions of ASA24 provide data on all nutrients available in FNDDS 2011-12 and all food groups available in FPED 2011-12. ASA24-Canada-2016 was adapted for use in Canada and uses the Canadian Nutrient File (CNF 2015) as the basis for nutrient variables. ASA24-Australia-2016 was adapted for use in Australia and uses the Australian Food, Supplement and Nutrient Database (AUSNUT) 2011-13 nutrient file and includes no food groups. Not all nutrients available in FNDDS 2011-12 are available in the AUSNUT file; therefore, 24 of the nutrient variables in the analytic files contain no data. Additionally, there are ten nutrients (energy without dietary fibre, available carbohydrate without sugar alcohols, starch, ash, total long chain omega 3 fatty acids, total trans fatty acids, pro-vitamin A, niacin derived equivalents, iodine, tryptophan) that are included in the AUSNUT file that are not available in ASA24-Australia-2016.
Analyses for studies suing ASA24-2014, ASA24-Kids-2014, ASA24-2011 and ASA24-Kids-2012 provided data for all nutrients available in FNDDS version 4.1 and all food groups included in MPED. ASA24-Canada-2014 was adapted for use in Canada and uses the Canadian Nutrient File (CNF 2015) as the basis for nutrient variables and includes no food groups.
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 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, 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?
Once a study has begun 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?
The U.S. version of ASA24-2016 includes an option for Researchers to provide Respondents completing recalls (not records) with Respondent Nutrition Reports. This is an optional module that Researchers can select during study registration. Respondent Nutrition Reports for food records is under development. 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 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.
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 including 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.
ASA24 is a registered trademark of HHS.