Measuring life events and their association with clinical disorder: a protocol for development of an online approach

Spence, Ruth ORCID logoORCID:, Bunn, Amanda, Nunn, Stephen ORCID logoORCID:, Hosang, Georgina, Kagan, Lisa, Fisher, Helen L., Taylor, Matthew and Bifulco, Antonia ORCID logoORCID: (2015) Measuring life events and their association with clinical disorder: a protocol for development of an online approach. JMIR Research Protocols, 4 (3) . e83. ISSN 1929-0748 [Article] (doi:10.2196/resprot.4085)

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Background: Severe life events are acknowledged as important aetiological factors in the development of clinical disorders, including major depression. Interview methods capable of assessing context and meaning of events have demonstrated superior validity compared to checklist questionnaire methods and arguments for interview approaches have resurfaced as choice of assessment tool has been implicated in gene-environment interactions in depression. Such approaches also have greater potential for understanding and treating clinical cases or for use in interventions.
Objectives: (i) To argue that life events need sophisticated measurement not satisfactorily captured in checklist approaches. (ii) To review life events measures and key findings related to disorder, exemplifying depression. (iii) To describe an ongoing study with a new online measure, to assess its psychometric properties and the association of life events in relation to disorder and educational outcomes.
Methods: The Computerised Life Events Assessment Record (CLEAR) is under development as a tool for online assessment of adult life events. Based on the Life Events and Difficulties Schedule (LEDS) interview, CLEAR seeks to assess life events to self and close others, link these to other events and difficulties and utilise calendar-based timing, to improve upon checklist approaches. The phases of the study are outlined in terms of its samples of midlife cases with depression, unaffected controls and students, testing of the psychometric properties of CLEAR, as well as proposed investigations of its association with disorder and educational outcomes.
Conclusions: There is currently no sophisticated technological application of social risk factor assessment, such as life events and difficulties. CLEAR is designed to gather reliable and valid life event data whilst combatting the limitations of interviews (e.g. time consuming and costly) and life event checklists (e.g. inability to accurately measure severity and independence of life events). The advantages of using such innovative methodology for research, clinical practice and interventions are discussed.

Item Type: Article
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS)
Item ID: 16803
Notes on copyright: Published version licensed under Creative Commons Attribution cc-by 2.0
©Ruth Spence, Amanda Bunn, Stephen Nunn, Georgina M Hosang, Lisa Kagan, Helen L Fisher, Matthew Taylor, Antonia Bifulco. Originally published in JMIR Research Protocols (, 14.07.2015. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR Research Protocols, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
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Depositing User: Ruth Spence
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2015 09:01
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 22:36

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