Reproducibility of an Italian food frequency questionnaire for cancer studies. Results for specific nutrients

Silvia Franceschi, Fabio Barbone, Eva Negri, Adriano Decarli, Monica Ferraroni, Rosa Filiberti, Attilio Giacosa, Patrizia Gnagnarella, Oriana Nanni, Simonetta Salvini, Carlo La Vecchia

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The reproducibility of measures of the intake of total energy and 27 selected nutrients from a quantitative food frequency questionnaire (FFQ) used in a case-control study on cancer of the breast, ovary, and digestive tract was evaluated. The results of two FFQ administrations at an interval of 3 to 10 months (median = 5.4 months) to 452 volunteers (144 males and 308 females; median age = 50 years) from three Italian provinces (Pordenone, Genoa, and Forli) were compared. Pearson correlation coefficients (r) between crude nutrient intake (unadjusted for energy) ranged from 0.50 for vegetable fat to 0.80 for alcohol, with most values falling between 0.60 and 0.70 (median r = 0.67). Adjustment of nutrient intakes for total energy slightly decreased most coefficients (median r = 0.60). The agreement between the two measurements did not differ substantially by sex, age, education, and interval between interviews. The contribution of specific FFQ components (i.e., frequency-only questions, open questions, portion size, and fat intake pattern) was also assessed separately with respect to the performance and reproducibility of nutrient measures, yielding, in general, very similar results. The seven questions concerning individual fat intake pattern, which were used to modulate the composition of various recipes, led, however, to a significant increase in mean daily intake of vegetable fat, oleic acid, and vitamin E, but a reduction of estimated daily intake of linoleic acid and polyunsaturated fatty acids. The present study showed that the reproducibility of this FFQ is very good. In a country like Italy where distinctive dietary patterns exist in different regions and groups of the population, especially with respect to the use of fat for seasoning, specific questions on individual fat intake pattern are worth asking in order to clarify the role of different types of fat and vitamin E in the etiology of cancer of the breast, ovary, and digestive tract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-75
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Epidemiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1995


  • alcohol
  • cancer
  • Diet
  • reproducibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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