Details of Publication 298 for Project A034:

Clemens S & Matthews S. Comparison of a food-frequency questionnaire method and a quantity-frequency method to classify risky alcohol consumption in women. Alcohol & Alcoholism, 2007; 43(2): 223-229

Aims: Population surveys use a variety of methods to collect data on alcohol consumption. Comparability of results across methods is a prime consideration. Different methods have been demonstrated to be robust in terms of ranking individuals’ alcohol use, while results have been mixed regarding comparability in terms of volume of consumption. In Australia, evidence-based guidelines have been developed that identify critical thresholds of consumption that are associated with increased risk of alcoholrelated morbidity. This study investigated whether the identification of individuals consuming alcohol above these thresholds was consistent across two methods used to collect data on consumption. Methods: The Australian Longitudinal Study of Women’s Health (ALSWH) incorporated both a quantity-frequency (QF) method and a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) to collect data on alcohol consumption. Comparisons were made between these two methods on the ability to classify women consuming alcohol as risky (between 176 and 350 ml of pure alcohol weekly) and at high risk (greater than 350 ml of pure alcohol weekly) levels.Results: The ranking of individuals was robust across methods. However, concordance in identifying risky/high-risk drinkers varied considerably based on the assumptions underlying the different methods used to calculate drinking volume using the FFQ. Similarly, the sensitivity and specificity of the FFQ methods compared to QF in terms of identifying risky/high-risk consumers were high but variable. Conclusions: This study indicated that the proportion of respondents exceeding consumption thresholds was sensitive to the instrument used to collect data on alcohol intake. Quantifying such differences is important when making comparisons between surveys that use different methodologies.