Progressive 24-hour recall: usability study of short retention intervals in Web-based dietary assessment surveys

Timur Osadchiy, Ivan Poliakov, Patrick Olivier, Maisie Rowland, Emma Foster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


BACKGROUND: Under-reporting because of the limitations of human memory is one of the key challenges in dietary assessment surveys that use the multiple-pass 24-hour recall. Research indicates that shortening a retention interval (ie, the time between the eating event and recall) reduces the burden on memory and may increase the accuracy of the assessment.

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to explore the accuracy and acceptability of Web-based dietary assessment surveys based on a progressive recall, where a respondent is asked to record multiple recalls throughout a 24-hour period using the multiple-pass protocol and portion size estimation methods of the 24-hour recall. 

METHODS: The experiment was conducted with a dietary assessment system, Intake24, that typically implements the multiple-pass 24-hour recall method where respondents record all meals they had for the previous day on a single occasion. We modified the system to allow respondents to add multiple recalls throughout the day using the multiple-pass protocol and portion size estimation methods of the 24-hour recall (progressive recall). We conducted a dietary assessment survey with 33 participants, where they were asked to record dietary intake using both 24-hour and progressive recall methods for weekdays only. We compared mean retention intervals (ie, the time between eating event and recall) for the 2 methods. To examine accuracy, we compared mean energy estimates and the mean number of reported foods. Of these participants, 23 were interviewed to examine the acceptability of the progressive recall. 

RESULTS: Retention intervals were found to be, on average, 15.2 hours (SD 7.8) shorter during progressive recalls than those during 24-hour recalls. We found that the mean number of foods reported for evening meals for progressive recalls (5.2 foods) was significantly higher (P=.001) than that for 24-hour recalls (4.2 foods). The number of foods and the amount of energy reported for other meals remained similar across the 2 methods. In interviews, 65% (15/23) of participants said that the 24-hour recall is more convenient in terms of fitting in with their daily lifestyles, and 65% (15/23) of respondents indicated that they remembered meal content and portion sizes better with the progressive recall. 

CONCLUSIONS: The analysis of interviews and data from our study indicate that progressive recalls provide minor improvements to the accuracy of dietary assessment in Intake24. Additional work is needed to improve the acceptability of progressive recalls in this system.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13266
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Medical Internet Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


  • computer systems
  • diet records
  • epidemiologic methods
  • nutrition assessment
  • nutrition surveys

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