Progressing the development of a food literacy questionnaire using cognitive interviews

Thompson, C., Adams, J., & Vidgen, H.A.




Food literacy is the knowledge, skills and behaviours needed to meet food needs and determine intake and is conceptualised as eleven components under four domains of planning and managing, selecting, preparing, and eating. Previous measures of food literacy vary in their adherence to the conceptualisation and ability to capture totality of eating. This study aimed to determine items for inclusion and exclusion in a food literacy item pool and capture the general public’s interpretation of everyday food literacy practices.


Beginning with an item pool from previous studies, cognitive interviews were conducted using think-aloud and verbal probing methods. Data were first analysed for applicability, clarity, ambiguity and logic, then for emergent themes to ensure items captured the totality of the participant’s eating.




Australian residents over 18 years of age recruited via Facebook residential groups (n=20).


Of the original 116 items, 11 items had limited applicability; 13 items had unclear references; 32 items had lexical problems and 11 items had logical problems. In total, 29 items were deleted, 31 retained and 56 revised. Thematic analysis revealed participants limited their responses to consider only conventional practices such as grocery shopping, cooking and planned meals rather than the totality of their eating. An additional eighty-four items were developed to address eating out, incidental eating occasions and inconsistencies between participants assumed correct knowledge and that of public health guidelines. This resulted in a refined 171-item pool.


This study progresses the development towards a comprehensive, validated food literacy questionnaire.


Thompson, C., Adams, J., & Vidgen, H.A. (2021). Progressing the development of a food literacy questionnaire using cognitive interviews. Public Health Nutrition, 25(7) 1968-78.

Dr Courtney Stewart (RNutr, FHEA)

BNutrSc, BBiomedSc(Hons), PhD
Director, NPR Consulting

Join our mailing list for monthly health and nutrition insights