Childhood adversity: a review of measurement instruments

J Nurs Meas. 2007;15(3):163-76. doi: 10.1891/106137407783095766.


Measurement instruments are needed to stimulate research on the long-term outcomes of childhood adversity. Therefore, the purpose of this review was to locate, describe, and assess instruments to measure retrospective perceptions of childhood adversity. An electronic search of instruments was conducted using a combination of keywords that included child maltreatment, child trauma, and childhood stressful events. Nine instruments were located and described according to format, definition of childhood adversity as measured by the instrument, characteristics of the sample used in development and testing, reliability and validity evidence, and feasibility for use. Six out of the nine instruments were suitable for investigators who require a comprehensive measure of childhood adversity. Corroboration with independent sources and use of randomized samples are needed to improve upon reports of validity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Child Abuse / psychology*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / standards
  • Life Change Events
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • Mass Screening / standards
  • Nursing Assessment / methods*
  • Nursing Assessment / standards
  • Nursing Methodology Research / methods*
  • Nursing Methodology Research / standards
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sample Size
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards
  • Wounds and Injuries / psychology*