Timeline Followback Method

Original/alternative title:  TLFB


The TLFB is a drinking assessment method that can be administered in various formats:  as clinician-administered interview, paper and pencil and computer. 

The TLFB is used to obtain estimates of the quantity of daily drinking. It can also be used for outcome evaluation and treatment planning purposes. The method is recommended for use when relatively precise estimates of drinking are necessary, especially when a complete picture of drinking days (i.e., high and low risk days) is needed (evaluating drinking pre-post treatment). Although timeline summary data have been found to be generally reliable, as with all drinking assessment methods, exact day-by-day precision cannot be assumed or necessarily expected. Overall, the Alcohol TLFB method provides a relatively accurate portrayal of drinking and has both clinical and research utility.

Additional information

Sobell, L.C., & Sobell, M.B. (1992). Timeline follow-back: A technique for assessing selfreported alcohol consumption. In R.Z. Litten & J. Allen (Eds.), Measuring alcohol consumption: Psychosocial and biological methods (pp. 41-72). New Jersey: Humana Press.

Pedersen ER, Grow J, Duncan S, Neighbors C, Larimer ME. Concurrent validity of an online version of the Timeline Followback assessment. Psychol Addict Behav 2012;26(3):672-7.

Roy M; Dum M; Sobell LC; Sobell MB; et al. Comparison of the Quick Drinking Screen and the Alcohol Timeline Followback with outpatient alcohol abusers. Subst Use Misuse 2008;43(14):2116-23.

Maisto SA ; Conigliaro JC ; Gordon AJ ; McGinnis KA ; Justice AC. An experimental study of the agreement of self-administration and telephone administration of the timeline followback interview. J Stud Alcohol Drugs 2008;69(3):468-71.

Pedersen ER ; LaBrie JW. A within-subjects validation of a group-administered Timeline Followback for alcohol use. Journal of Studies on Alcohol Mar 2006;67(2):332-335.