Assessing traumatic event exposure: general issues and preliminary findings for the Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaire

J Trauma Stress. 1998 Jul;11(3):521-42. doi: 10.1023/A:1024456713321.


This article reviews the psychometric properties of the Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaire (SLESQ), a recently developed trauma history screening measure, and discusses the complexities involved in assessing trauma exposure. There are relatively few general measures of exposure to a variety of types of traumatic events, and most of those that exist have not been subjected to rigorous psychometric evaluation. The SLESQ showed good test-retest reliability, with a median kappa of .73, adequate convergent validity (with a lengthier interview) with a median kappa of .64, and good discrimination between Criterion A and non-Criterion A events. The discussion addresses some of the challenges of assessing traumatic event exposure along the dimensions of defining traumatic events, assessment methodologies, reporting consistency, and incident validation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mass Screening* / statistics & numerical data
  • Personality Development
  • Personality Inventory* / statistics & numerical data
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology
  • Students / psychology