1970s the LEDS interview, designed by George Brown and Tirril Harris
provided a major development in the measurement of stress in relation
to disorder. In contrast to the checklist self-report measures current
at the time, they introduced a contextualised way of exploring life
experience where respondents were encouraged to give full details
of their recent experiences within a 12-month time-frame. Probing
questions were used to establish details of what had happened, when
and with what impact. In rating this information interviewers attended
only to the factual elements of the events or more chronic difficulties.
The emotional response to the event was kept as separate information
for rating purposes. In accordance with a dictionary of precedent
ratings, each event was rated according to classification (by domain
eg marital or work and type of event eg starting new relationship
or losing job) and its ‘threat or unpleasantness’ on a
4-point scale. Other attributes such as its focus (on the respondent
or on someone close), its independence from disorder as well as a
number of characteristics such as loss, danger, trauma, humiliation,
entrapment were also rated. For difficulties the classification and
severity alone were rated.
developed showed that provoking agents consisted
of severe life events (those rated as ‘marked’ or ‘moderate’
severity at two weeks after the beginning of event, focused on the
respondent or jointly with someone close and not illness-related)
or major difficulties (those of two years duration and of high level
of severity). Such events included deaths of close others, partner's
infidelity, children's delinquency, unplanned pregnancy or material
crises such as redundancy or eviction. The type of events most likely
to provoke a depression proved to be those involving close relationships.
Characteristics of severe events most related to onset were those
likely to produce shame, such as humiliations, personal failures and
stigmatising events. Although major difficulties are less potent as
provoking agents, a severe event arising out of such a difficulty
greatly increases risk of onset and a category of 'entrapping' event
is one of these.
has now been used extensively over the last twenty years by a number
of teams studying both psychiatric and physical illness. Its inter-rater
reliability is high with correlations of around 0.90 for assessing
severity of life events.
Brown GW & Harris T (1978) Social Origins of Depression.
Tavistock, London, New York.
Brown, G. W., Bifulco, A., & Harris, T. O. (1987). Life
events, vulnerability and onset of depression: Some refinements. British Journal of Psychiatry.
Brown, G. W., Harris, T. O., & Hepworth, C. (1995). Loss,
humiliation and entrapment among women developing depression:
A patient and non-patient comparison. Psychological Medicine,