Use of signal detection methodology to identify subgroups of dietary supplement use in diverse populations

Document Type


Date of Original Version



Despite widespread use of dietary supplements, little is known about correlates and determinants of their use. Using a diverse sample from 7 interventions participating in the Behavior Change Consortium (n = 2539), signal detection methodology (SDM) demonstrated a method for identifying subgroups with varying supplement use. An SDM model was explored with an exploratory half of the entire sample (n = 1268) and used 5 variables to predict dietary supplement use: cigarette smoking, fruit and vegetable intake, dietary fat consumption, BMI, and stage of change for physical activity. A comparison of rates of supplement use between the exploratory model groups and comparably identified groups in the reserved, confirmatory sample (n = 1271) indicates that these analyses may be generalizable. Significant indicators of any supplement use included smoking status, percentage of energy from fat, and fruit and vegetable consumption. Although higher supplement use was associated with healthy behaviors overall, many of the identified groups exhibited mixed combinations of healthy and unhealthy behaviors. The results of this study suggest that patterns of dietary supplement use are complex and support the use of SDM to identify possible population characteristics for targeted and tailored health communication interventions. © 2008 American Society for Nutrition.

Publication Title, e.g., Journal

Journal of Nutrition