The Life Events and Difficulties Schedule (LEDS)

Today many people use questionnaire approaches to measure stressors. They are also often used in research about the relative impact of the environment and genetics on psychopathology.

Whilst checklist approaches can provide some information about events they often fail to look at the details and context. For example, for some people pregnancy could be a positive event, whilst for others it could be an anxiety provoking and difficult experience. Relevant context would include whether or not it was planned, the state of the partnership/relationship, the health of the individuals and their financial or housing situation.

The Life Events and Difficulties Schedule was designed (LEDS) by Brown and Harris as a more sophisticated assessment technique designed to measure this type of contextual threat, incorporating meaning within an individual’s life. The characteristics of events and the duration of stressors were also considered to be important. The LEDS involves:

  • A one hour interview with questions about acute events and ongoing difficulties over the last twelve months.
  • Events are questioned in detail to determine their date, context, duration of threat and focus (on self or other).
  • A number of domains are covered including: education, work, reproduction, money/possessions, housing, crime/legal, health, romantic relationships, other relationships and miscellaneous events.
  • In contrast to checklist questionnaires, the LEDS allows for measurement of unique events that might not be listed anywhere else.
  • Standardised rating procedures and a manual of benchmark examples are used to rate the severity of events.
  • A severe event is one rated marked or moderate on threat or unpleasantness, present for at least 10 days after its inception and focused on the person. Events attributable to psychological disorder (e.g. admission to psychiatric hospital or suicide) are not included.
  • A ongoing difficulty is a problem lasting at least four weeks. Major difficulties are those of ‘marked’ or ‘moderate’ severity, which have lasted two years continuously. For some examples of events and difficulties view here.

Clear Health symbol