Assessment of life stress in adolescents: Self-report versus interview methods

Sunita Duggal, Susan Malkoff-Schwartz, Boris Birmaher, Barbara P. Anderson, Mary K. Matty, Patricia R. Houck, Meredith Bailey-Orr, Douglas E. Williamson, Ellen Frank

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Objective: To compare the investigator-based Life Events and Difficulties Schedule (LEDS) with a self-report measure (Life Events Checklist [LEC]) for the purpose of measuring life stress in adolescents with and without a diagnosis of major depressive disorder (MDD). Method: Adolescents (aged 13-18 years) with a recent episode of MDD based on DSM-III- R (n = 35) and normal controls free of any Axis I lifetime psychiatric disorder (n = 35) were assessed using both the LEC and the LEDS. Results: Both measures predicted membership in the depressed and nondepressed groups of adolescents. Adolescents in the depressed group were more likely to report a severe event on the LEDS (97%) than adolescents in the nondepressed group (66%) (p = .001). Similarly, subjects in the depressed group endorsed a greater number of negative events (mean = 8.1) on the LEC than subjects in the nondepressed group (mean = 3.0) (p = .0001). An examination of potential provoking agents for episodes of major depression revealed that the LEC captured only 32% of preonset severe events and 36% of preonset major difficulties identified by the LEDS. Conclusions: Interpreted in light of relative advantages and disadvantages, the results suggest that checklist and interview measures each have distinct advantages depending on the purpose for which they are being used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)445-452
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000


  • Adolescence
  • Life Events Checklist
  • Life Events and Difficulties Schedule
  • Life events
  • Major depressive disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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