measures utilised in the lifespan interviews are standardised, semi-structured
interviews which have been developed since the 1970s and follow in
the tradition of the Camberwell Family interview designed in the 1960s
by George Brown and Michael Rutter. The measures all have high reliability
and validity and have been used successfully in the study of common
psychological disorders both within the team, nationally and internationally.
The measures have the advantage of having both qualitative and quantitative
aspects. The interviews generate a large amount of narrative as individuals
tell their stories thus generating qualitative information which is
captured both on audio-tape but also part-transcribed onto schedules.
But rigorous scoring is also applied to these accounts on topic schedules
with pre-defined scales with benchmarks for determining rating level.
All the measures require training in their use, with detailed manuals
and training materials utilised.
The measures are contextual, with detailed questioning
about life experience over the lifespan. This begins with the Childhood
Experience of Care and Abuse (CECA) which covers the first 17 years
of life and then the Adult Life Phase Interview (ALPHI) which covers
from age 18 to time of interview. These two measures assess experiences
of stress in the form of childhood neglect and abuse, and adult difficulty
and trauma, with careful dating of experience to provide timelines
of experience. Both measures also assess the quality of close relationships
(with parents, partners and support figures) and positive aspects
to gauge resilience. The Life Events and Difficulties Schedule (LEDS)
covers both positive and negative events and longer term difficulties
in the year before interview in order to look at timing of stressor
and onset of depression with more precision. This also involves assessments
of coping and crisis support with stress to explain protective factors.
measures include psychological and social assessments of vulnerability
to disorder. This includes the Self Esteem and Social Support (SESS)
interview, and the Attachment Style Interview (ASI). Both have identified
vulnerability factors in the form of Negative Evaluation of Self,
Negative Elements in Core Relationships and Insecure Attachment Style.
terms of the inter-generational aspects of the study,
there are also assessments of parenting. These include details of
pregnancy, subsequent care and control of children, and competence
in the parenting role. These encompass retrospective measures (Parenting
interview) and concurrent and prospective measures (SESS parenting
interview measures are considered the ‘gold standard’
in these studies, self-report questionnaires have been developed for
the vulnerability measures for screening purposes and where interviews
are not feasible.