Evaluation of the 24-Hour Recall as a Reference Instrument for Calibrating Other Self-Report Instruments in Nutritional Cohort Studies: Evidence From the Validation Studies Pooling Project.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


American journal of epidemiology, p.1-10 (2017)


Calibrating dietary self-report instruments is recommended as a way to adjust for measurement error when estimating diet-disease associations. Because biomarkers available for calibration are limited, most investigators use self-reports (e.g., 24-hour recalls (24HRs)) as the reference instrument. We evaluated the performance of 24HRs as reference instruments for calibrating food frequency questionnaires (FFQs), using data from the Validation Studies Pooling Project, comprising 5 large validation studies using recovery biomarkers. Using 24HRs as reference instruments, we estimated attenuation factors, correlations with truth, and calibration equations for FFQ-reported intakes of energy and for protein, potassium, and sodium and their densities, and we compared them with values derived using biomarkers. Based on 24HRs, FFQ attenuation factors were substantially overestimated for energy and sodium intakes, less for protein and potassium, and minimally for nutrient densities. FFQ correlations with truth, based on 24HRs, were substantially overestimated for all dietary components. Calibration equations did not capture dependencies on body mass index. We also compared predicted bias in estimated relative risks adjusted using 24HRs as reference instruments with bias when making no adjustment. In disease models with energy and 1 or more nutrient intakes, predicted bias in estimated nutrient relative risks was reduced on average, but bias in the energy risk coefficient was unchanged.