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June 1987

The Longitudinal Interval Follow-up Evaluation: A Comprehensive Method for Assessing Outcome in Prospective Longitudinal Studies

Author Affiliations

From the National Institute of Mental Health-Clinical Research Branch Collaborative Program on the Psychobiology of Depression: Clinical Studies, Bethesda, Md (Drs Keller, Lavori, Endicott, and Andreasen and Mss Friedman, Nielsen, and McDonald-Scott); Massachusetts General Hospital-Harvard Medical School, Boston (Drs Keller and Lavori and Mss Friedman and Nielsen); Biometrics Research Division, New York State Psychiatric Institute, New York (Dr Endicott and Ms McDonald-Scott); and Department of Psychiatry, University of Iowa, Iowa City (Dr Andreasen).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1987;44(6):540-548. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1987.01800180050009

• The Longitudinal Interval Follow-up Evaluation (LIFE) is an integrated system for assessing the longitudinal course of psychiatric disorders. It consists of a semistructured interview, an instruction booklet, a coding sheet, and a set of training materials. An interviewer uses the LIFE to collect detailed psychosocial, psychopathologic, and treatment information for a six-month follow-up interval. The weekly psychopathology measures ("psychiatric status ratings") are ordinal symptom-based scales with categories defined to match the levels of symptoms used in the Research Diagnostic Criteria. The ratings provide a separate, concurrent record of the course of each disorder initially diagnosed in patients or developing during the follow-up. Any DSM-III or Research Diagnostic Criteria disorder can be rated with the LIFE, and any length or number of follow-up intervals can be accommodated. The psychosocial and treatment information is recorded so that these data can be linked temporally to the psychiatric status ratings.