Comparing measures of stressful life events in young people

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Stressful events in the lives of young people have been measured using many methods. The diversity of measures makes it difficult to draw conclusions across studies regarding the role these events play in the development of common mental health problems in young people. The current review appraises measures of stressful life events in young people and assesses the quality of the methods used to develop such measures. Following PRISMA guidelines, published studies reporting on the psychometric properties of measures of stressful life events used with young people 18 years or younger were captured using systematic search terms across three databases. Study quality was assessed using the Consensus-based standards for the Selection of Health Measurement Instruments (COSMIN) scale. Psychometric properties (content validity, internal consistency, test-retest reliability, structural validity, criterion validity, cross-cultural validity) were assessed. In total, 21 studies were included describing unique life event measures. The majority referred to self-report checklists used in middle childhood. Nineteen studies examined content validity; 12 assessed internal consistency and 10 assessed test-retest reliability. Few studies examined the structural, criterion and cross-cultural validity of life event measures. The current review highlights the diversity of measures employed in the field and inconsistency in the methodological rigour with which they are developed. Recommendations about the use of measures of stressful life events and future research are provided.
Date of Award2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • King's College London
SupervisorPatrick Smith (Supervisor)

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