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Comparison of the Block and the Willett self-administered semiquantitative food frequency questionnaires with an interviewer-administered dietary history

The performances of two commonly used diet instruments, the Block and the Willett food frequency questionnaires, were compared with a longer, interviewer-administered diet history. Participants in a case-control study on diet and colon cancer were interviewed between 1990 and 1994 in northern California, Utah, and Minnesota by trained nutritionists using a validated diet history. Two separate subsamples of participants were asked to complete either the Block or the Willett questionnaire exactly 5 days after they completed the original diet history. Data were analyzed separately by subsample comparing either the Block or the Willett questionnaire with the original diet history by using means, correlations, quintile agreement, and odds ratios for the relation between several nutrients and colon cancer. The Block and the Willett questionnaires generally provided lower absolute intake estimates than did the original diet history; however, the Block questionnaire underestimated more than did that by Willett. Both correlations and quintile agreement were slightly better for the Willett questionnaire than for that by Block when compared with the original diet history. In general, point estimates obtained from either the Block or the Willett questionnaire fell within the confidence intervals of the estimates of the odds ratios obtained from the original diet history, and no real difference in significance levels appeared. Although the Block and Willett questionnaires differed slightly from each other and from our original diet history in estimating absolute nutrients and ranking or classifying individuals, they were very similar in their ability to predict disease outcome.

Authors: Caan BJ; Slattery ML; Potter J; Quesenberry CP Jr; Coates AO; Schaffer DM

Am J Epidemiol. 1998 Dec 15;148(12):1137-47.

PubMed abstract

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