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Biometrics. 1999 Sep;55(3):711-7.

Estimation of the correlation between nutrient intake measures under restricted sampling.

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  • 1Division of Public Health Sciences, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington 98109-1024, USA.


Food frequency questionnaires (FFQs) are commonly used to assess dietary intake in epidemiologic research. To evaluate the FFQ reliability, the commonly used approach is to estimate the correlation coefficient between the data given in FFQ and those in food records (for example, 4-day food records [4DFR]) for nutrients of interest. However, in a dietary intervention study, a criterion for eligibility may be to select participants who have baseline FFQ-measured dietary intake of percent energy from fat above a prespecified quantity. Other instruments, such as the 4DFR, may be subsequently administrated only to eligible participants. Under these circumstances, analysis without adjusting for the restricted population will usually lead to biased estimation of correlation coefficients and other parameters of interest. In this paper, we apply likelihood-based and multiple imputation (MI) methods to accommodate such incomplete data obtained as a result of the study design. A simulation study is conducted to examine finite sample performance of various estimators. We note that both the MI estimate and the maximum likelihood (ML) estimate based on a bivariate-normal model are not sensitive to departures from this normality assumption. This led us to investigate robustness properties of the ML estimator analytically. We present some data analyses from a dietary assessment study from the Women's Health Initiative to illustrate the methods.

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