Measurement of self-reported HIV risk behaviors in injection drug users: comparison of standard versus timeline follow-back administration procedures

J Subst Abuse Treat. 2010 Jan;38(1):60-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jsat.2009.06.004. Epub 2009 Aug 29.


This study compares the frequencies of retrospective self-reported HIV high-risk drug use and sexual behaviors in 127 out-of-treatment injection drug users using the HIV Risk Questionnaire (HRQ) across two administration methods: (a) a brief standard quantity-frequency approach covering the past 30 days and (b) a lengthier timeline follow-back (TLFB) procedure for improving recall. The two procedures produced similar frequencies of risk behavior across most items (80%) and good intra- and interclass correlation coefficients. The TLFB, however, resulted in higher frequencies for two risk behavior questions-sharing of any drug injection equipment and having any type of unprotected sex. The TLFB is a well-established procedure for retrospective assessment of HIV risk behavior and a good choice when precision in measuring these behaviors is a primary focus of the work. In contrast, the brief HRQ-Standard interview procedure appears to be a reasonable choice for clinical, research, and health-related surveys where the primary focus is broader than HIV risk behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • HIV Infections*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needle Sharing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Risk-Taking*
  • Self Disclosure
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Unsafe Sex / statistics & numerical data*