Utility of the Time-Line Follow-Back to assess substance use among homeless adults

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry

Publication Date


Document Type



Adult; Age Factors; Comorbidity; Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry); Female; Homeless Persons; Humans; Male; Mental Disorders; Outcome Assessment (Health Care); Personality Inventory; Prevalence; Psychiatric Status Rating Scales; Psychometrics; Reproducibility of Results; Retrospective Studies; Sensitivity and Specificity; Severity of Illness Index; Substance-Related Disorders


Health Services Research | Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Assessing substance use of homeless persons is a critical task. This study examines the test-retest reliability, concurrent validity, and sensitivity to change of the Time-Line Follow-Back interview, a calendar instrument used to assess days and quantities of alcohol use and days of illicit drug use, in the multisite Collaborative Program to Prevent Homelessness (CPPH). The Time-Line Follow-Back was reliable for assessing use during the past month and the recent 6 months. Results from the Time-Line Follow-Back were correlated with other self-reports of use, with research diagnoses of substance use disorder, and with clinician ratings of severity of substance abuse. The Time-Line Follow-Back detected changes in clients with severe mental illness and in those with less severe psychiatric problems.

DOI of Published Version



J Nerv Ment Dis. 2003 Mar;191(3):145-53. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

The Journal of nervous and mental disease

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID