Recent Life Events
Name of Child:
Relationship to child:
Recent Life Events
Listed below are a number of events. Please read each item carefully and then indicate whether or not each event has
happened to you in the past year.
Please tick the YES box if the event has occurred.
Please tick the ‘still affects me’ box if the event is still having an effect on your life
EVENT YES Still affects me
Have you had a serious illness or been seriously injured? _ _
Has one of your immediate family * been seriously ill or injured? _ _
Have any of your close friends or other close relatives been seriously ill or injured? _ _
Have any of your immediate family died? _ _
Have any of your other close relatives or close friends died? _ _
Have you separated from your partner (not including death)? _ _
Have you had any serious problem with a close friend, neighbour or relative? _ _
Have you, or an immediate family member been subject to serious racial abuse, attack or /threats _ _
Have you, or an immediate family member been subject to any abuse, attack, threat - perhaps
due to you or someone close to you having a disability of any kind (i.e. a mental health problem,
a learning disability or a physical problem)? _ _
Have you, or an immediate family member been subject to any other form of serious abuse,
attack, or threat? _ _
Have you or your partner been unemployed or seeking work for more than one month? _ _
Have you or your partner been sacked from your job or made redundant? _ _
Have you had any major financial difficulties (e.g. debts, difficulty paying bills)? _ _
Have you, or an immediate family member had any Police contact or been in a court appearance? _ _
Have you or an immediate member of your family been burgled or mugged? _ _
Have you or another individual who lives with you given birth? _ _
Have you or another individual who lives with you suffered from a miscarriage or had a stillbirth? _ _
Have you moved house (through choice)? _ _
Have you moved house (not through choice)? _ _
Have you had any housing difficulties? _ _
Have you had any other significant event ( Please specify)? _ _
* immediate family includes: mother, father, sister, brother, partner, child
RECENT LIFE EVENTS 1b
© Copyright ISBN 0 11 322426 5 RECENT LIFE EVENTS 2a
19. The initial scoring is binary. 1 if the life event has happened, and 0 if it has
20. The number of events that the respondent considers are still affecting them
is then counted.
21. In piloting respondents reported up to 17 events in the last year, of which
up to 10 were still having an affect. The average number of events was
between 7 & 8, of which about half were still considered by the caregiver to
be affecting them.
22. The questionnaire does not have a cut off point. It is scored on the basis
that the more life events the adult has been through, the higher the score,
and therefore the greater the likelihood of some form of longer term impact
on the adult, child and or family. This will be particularly so if the person
considers the events still affect them.
Brugha T, Bebington P, Tennant C and Hurry J (1985) The list of threatening
experiences: A subset of 12 life events categories with considerable long-term
contextual threat. Psychological medicine. 15: 189–194.
9. It can contribute to a social history, or provide an opportunity to re-evaluate
whether known events are continuing to exert an influence.
10. It is expected that it will be used mostly with main caregivers, but it could be
of value with potential caregivers and separated parents.
11. In piloting it was found to be ‘extremely’ useful in both initial assessment
and continuing work. It raised new issues on three out of every four
occasions on which it was used.
12. With new families the questionnaire ‘gave further insight into the carer’s
background’. It ‘put into perspective the reasons why the mother was
13. With respondents with whom workers were already familiar it revealed
information not previously known. It identified issues that ‘the family had
not considered stressful or told me’. ‘It highlighted issues that were and
were not still having an effect’. One social worker reported that they were
able to find out the ‘carer’s view of issues’.
14. It is clear that social workers should be prepared for what may emerge if this
instrument is used.
15. The scale should be given to the respondent, usually a main caregiver, after
appropriate preparation. This will depend on whether the context is an
assessment or a review.
16. It may be helpful to acknowledge that the worker appreciates that thinking
about important family events may stir up painful memories.
17. The questionnaires take about 15 minutes to complete, but discussion can
take considerably longer.
18. Although not used in this way in the piloting, it could form a valuable basis
for a family discussion. This would require further preparation and
RECENT LIFE EVENTS QUESTIONNAIRES
1. Life events are usually short-lived but may have more enduring
2. They can be distinguished from ‘chronic difficulties’, such as poverty or
persistently discordant relationships. However life events can be both an
indicator of chronic difficulties, or a precipitant of them.
3. Life events affect individuals and families in different ways, so it is important
to explore how they impact on the caregivers and the family. For example,
the death of a grandparent may have a practical as well as an emotional
impact on the family if they have helped to support and care for the
4. Negative life events such as divorce, death of someone close, physical
illness and unemployment have the capacity to affect any family member,
not just those directly involved. Losing a parent at a young age, particularly
before 11, has been reported to independently influence wellbeing in both
childhood and adult life.
5. Most negative life events can be seen as involving the experience of loss, or
threat of loss, including the loss of self esteem. Some apparently positive
events such as job promotion may act in this way.
6. An important issue is whether an event is felt to continue to exert a negative
affect. This aspect has not always been included in questionnaires.
7. This Life Events questionnaire has been developed from one devised by
Brugha et al (1985), with 9 additional items.
8. The scale aims to look at recent life events, those occurring in the last 12
months and whether the respondent thinks they have a continuing
influence. However it can be used to evaluate events and impact over a
longer period if desired.
RECENT LIFE EVENTS 2b
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