UCLA Life Stress Interview

Episodic Stress Assessment

The assessment of episodic stressors over the past 6 months (or 1 year) uses methods similar to the contextual threat approach of Brown & Harris (1978), based on Brown’s observation that the impact of an event depends on the circumstances in which it occurs. Thus, interviewers obtain detailed information regarding the nature and date of each event, and the circumstances in which each event occurred (e.g., whether the event was expected or unexpected, how long it continued, whether the person had previous experience with the event, and consequences of the event). Based on this information, the interviewer presents written narratives of each event to a rating team that is blinded to the participant’s actual reaction to the event or to their diagnostic status. The team thus attempts to make objective ratings of how much impact the event would have on a typical person under similar circumstances. Objective ratings of event severity range from 1 (no impact) to 5 (extremely severe impact). The team also rates the extent to which each event was dependent on the participant’s behavior, using a 1 (entirely independent, “fateful”) to 5 (entirely dependent) scale. The reliability and predictive validity of episodic stress ratings have been reported.