Examination of illicit drug use frequency using multiple drug assessment methods in mothers referred to treatment by child protective services

Document Type



It has long been established that illicit drug use contributes to child maltreatment. However, investigators have yet to comprehensively examine illicit drug use in mothers referred to treatment by Child Protective Services (CPS). In this study, 77 mothers who were referred to treatment by CPS for co-existing drug abuse and child neglect were administered the Timeline Follow-Back measure to assess their substance use frequency during the four months preceding treatment. Reports of the mothers’ substance use were obtained for the same time period from the mothers’ significant others and CPS caseworkers, and mothers were administered urinalysis testing. The purpose of this study was to examine the concordance of these multiple reports, and identify unique predictors of different drug use reporting patterns. The practice of using urinalysis results as a prompt during the mothers’ Timeline Follow-Back administration may have contributed to greater frequency of drug use reporting in mothers. Mothers reported progressively more drug use for more distant time periods, as compared with caseworkers. Findings also suggested mothers’ reports of drug use were influenced by CPS investigatory case status (i.e., open or closed), ethnicity, and defensive responding. Implications of these findings for clinical practice and future research are discussed.


Child maltreatment; Child neglect; Self report substance use; Substance use assessment; Timeline follow-back


Behavioral Disciplines and Activities | Behavior and Behavior Mechanisms | Medicine and Health Sciences | Psychiatry and Psychology | Psychological Phenomena and Processes


Use Find in Your Library, contact the author, or use interlibrary loan to garner a copy of the article. Publisher copyright policy allows author to archive post-print (author’s final manuscript). When post-print is available or publisher policy changes, the article will be deposited

UNLV article access

Search your library