Inventorying stressful life events as risk factors for psychopathology: Toward resolution of the problem of intracategory variability

Department of Psychiatry and Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.
Psychological Bulletin (Impact Factor: 14.76). 06/2006; 132(3):477-95. DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.132.3.477
Source: PubMed


An explosion of research on life events has occurred since the publication of the Holmes and Rahe checklist in 1967. Despite criticism, especially of their use in research on psychopathology, such economical inventories have remained dominant. Most of the problems of reliability and validity with traditional inventories can be traced to the intracategory variability of actual events reported in their broad checklist categories. The purposes of this review are, first, to examine how this problem has been addressed within the tradition of economical checklist approaches; second, to determine how it has been dealt with by far less widely used and far less economical labor-intensive interview and narrative-rating approaches; and, third, to assess the prospects for relatively economical, as well as reliable and valid, solutions.

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