The transformation of a gold standard in-person substance use assessment to a web-based, REDCap integrated data capture tool.
The adoption of computer systems for gathering, managing, and analyzing health data is resulting in the replacement of pen-and-paper methods for collecting data and managing health records by computerized methods. One classic "pen-and-paper" assessment in health and substance use research is the Timeline Follow-Back (TLFB), the gold standard in self-reported substance use developed in 1996 by Sobell et al. to assess alcohol consumption patterns and later other substances such as marijuana or tobacco over discreet timeframes [1-7]. The TLFB has been modified by some research groups for use as a web-based assessment [8-10], but not without significant limitations. As such, this paper describes the team-oriented, interdisciplinary process by which a new online TLFB (O-TLFB) was conceptualized, the technical details of development towards a dynamic data capture tool fully integrated with REDCap via application programming interface (API), and the potential for this optimized O-TLFB to be leveraged broadly across the domains of substance use, health, and behavioral research.