Assessing sexual risk behaviour with the Timeline Followback (TLFB) approach: Continued development and psychometric evaluation with psychiatric outpatients

M. P. Carey, K. B. Carey, Stephen A Maisto, C. M. Gordon, L. S. Weinhardt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

141 Scopus citations


This paper describes a series of 4 studies, designed to provide evidence of the feasibility, reliability, and validity of the Timeline Followback (TLFB) method when used to assess sexual risk behaviour with psychiatric outpatients. This population was selected because patients often have difficulty completing assessments of sexual risk behaviours due to deficits in attention, memory, and communication skills. All 4 studies demonstrated the feasibility of the HIV-risk TLFB. Study 1 also demonstrated that it can be completed in 20 min, and scored in less than 10 min. Qualitative data revealed that both patients and assessors found the features of the TLFB helpful. Study 2 provided evidence that the HIV-risk TLFB can be reliably scored by interviewers whereas Study 3 demonstrated that this measure can be completed reliably by patients and that TLFB of sexual behaviour were consistent over time. Study 4 provided initial evidence for the validity of the HIV-risk TLFB but also suggested that the TLFB may yield frequency estimates that are slightly less than those obtained with single-item measures. We conclude that the TLFB is feasible, reliable, and valid, even in a population known to have difficulty with self-report measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-375
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of STD and AIDS
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2001



  • Assessment
  • HIV
  • Reliability
  • Sexual behaviour
  • Validity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Dermatology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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