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Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program

Dietary Screener Questionnaire in the National Health Interview Survey Cancer Control Supplement 2015


The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) Cancer Control Supplement (CCS) is administered every five years and focuses on knowledge, attitudes, and practices in cancer-related health behaviors, screening, and risk assessment. The NHIS CCS covers a variety of topics, including diet and nutrition.

Diet can be assessed using a variety of tools. Food records and 24-hour dietary recalls assess the total diet over one or more days, and they are considered the most accurate self-report instruments. In certain situations, however, such as when time is constrained or assessment of the total diet is not required, researchers have found that short dietary assessment instruments, often called screeners, are valuable. For example, screeners can be used for characterizing a population's mean intakes or examining interrelationships between diet and other variables. Recognizing the need for these tools, the Risk Factor Assessment Branch (RFAB) has developed several dietary screeners. One of these is the 26-item Dietary Screener Questionnaire (DSQ), which asks about the frequency of consumption in the past month of selected foods and drinks. The DSQ captures intakes of fruits and vegetables, dairy/calcium, added sugars, whole grains/fiber, red meat, and processed meat.

The DSQ was included in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2009-10 and the National Health Interview Survey Cancer Control Supplement (NHIS CCS) 2010 and 2015. The DSQ is publicly available.

Because screeners are shorter and less detailed than a total dietary assessment, some quantitative accuracy is sacrificed. However, calibrating a screener against the more precise 24-hour recall can help ensure that a screener is providing the best and most accurate estimates possible with such an instrument.

The NHANES 2009-10 collected two non-consecutive 24-hour recalls, in addition to the DSQ. The DSQ was calibrated to the more precise recalls, by developing scoring algorithms for each component of the DSQ.

The DSQ administered in the NHIS CCS 2015 is available for download:

Questions Asked

The DSQ used in the NHIS CCS 2015 was nearly identical to the DSQ administered in the NHANES 2009-10. The only difference is that in the NHIS CCS 2015, two questions were asked to capture intakes of sports drinks, energy drinks, and fruitades, whereas only one question was asked in the NHANES 2009-10 DSQ (shown in the table below).

How often did you drink sweetened fruit drinks, sports or energy drinks, such as Kool-aid, lemonade, Hi-C, cranberry drink, Gatorade, Red Bull or Vitamin Water? Include fruit juices you made at home and added sugar to. Do not include diet drinks or artificially sweetened drinks. How often did you drink SPORTS and ENERGY drinks such as Gatorade, Red Bull, and Vitamin water?
  How often did you drink sweetened fruit drinks, such as Kool-aid, cranberry and lemonade? Include fruit drinks you made at home and added sugar to.

The scoring algorithms applied to the NHIS CCS 2015 DSQ data are those developed for the NHANES 2009-10 DSQ. Those scoring algorithms were based on directly modeling the DSQ with usual intake derived from two non-consecutive days of 24-hour recall among the NHANES respondents ages 2 through 69. For those interested only in accessing the NHIS 2015 variables, please visit the Computed Variables page.

For more information about screeners and how they are used, including information about other screeners developed by RFAB, please visit Overview of Dietary Screeners.