Academic journal article College Student Journal

Negative Life Events Scale for Students (Nless)

Academic journal article College Student Journal

Negative Life Events Scale for Students (Nless)

Article excerpt

The seminal work of Holmes and Rahe (1967) introduced the checklist approach to the measurement of stressful life events. Despite early criticism of this approach (e.g., Brown, 1974, 1989; Gorman, 1993), subsequent research has revealed that such checklists provide a measurement of life stress comparable to that afforded by more extensive interview assessments (e.g., e.g., Lewinsohn, Rohde, & Gau, 2003; Wagner, Abela, & Brozina, 2006). Because of such findings, along with the fact that a checklist approach provides an ease of administration and a potential for use with large numbers of participants, questionnaire measures of life stress have continued to provide an avenue for an extensive array of empirical findings [see Brown & Harris, (1989) and Figureroa-Fankhanel (2014) for reviews].

The present paper reports on a review of 10 life events questionnaires (i.e., Clements & Turbin, 1996; Cochrane & Robertson, 1973; Crandall, Preisler, & Aussprung, 1992; Dohrenwend, Krasnoff, Askenasy, & Dohrenwend, 1978; Hobson, Kamen, Szostek, Nethercut, Tiedmann, & Wojnarowicz, 1998; Holmes & Rahe, 1967; Hurst, Jenkins, & Rose, 1978; Linden, 1984; McCubbin, Thompson, & McCubbin, 1996; and Sarason, Johnson, & Siegel, 1978). Presented here is a rationale for the derivation of a new measure of life events for use with students--the Negative Life Events Scale for Students (NLESS).

NLESS Scale Construction

Ten life events questionnaires were reviewed for this study. The number of life events listed in these questionnaires ranged from 36 (Clements et al., 1996; Linden, 1984) to 102 (Dorenwend et al., 1978). In total, 623 life events were mentioned in the 10 questionnaires.

Following is a description of the methods used to pare down the number of items to be included in the final version of the NLESS.

All 10 of the questionnaires reviewed included both temporary events (e.g., getting a low grade on a test, change in eating habits) as well as more long-term events (e.g., serious illness to a family member, chronic family financial strain). Since the goal of the NLESS was the measurement of life events (as opposed to daily hassles), only more long-term events were retained for the final item pool.

Most of the 10 questionnaires reviewed included both pleasant events (e.g., vacation, new dating relationship) and unpleasant events (e.g., death of a family member, break-up with boyfriend/girlfriend) when determining the degree of adjustment needed in response to each life event. The intended purpose of the NLESS was to assess the impact of negative life events in a person's life. As a result, all pleasant events were eliminated from the final item pool.

Using these criteria, a total of 117 items comprised a pool of potential NLESS items. From this pool of 117 items, all items typically not appropriate to student experiences were eliminated (e.g., child leaving home, retirement). Also, all duplicates were eliminated from the final item pool. Furthermore, similar items were combined to form one item. For example, items addressing mental illness in the family (e.g., "family member attempts suicide," "family member seeking psychological consultation," and "family member starts drinking heavily") were measured with the following single NLESS item: "Having a parent or sibling who is struggling with an addiction or some other psychological/emotional problem."

These adjustments resulted in a pool of 28 items. These 28 items were given to five judges (three female psychologists and two male psychologists). These five judges were asked to determine if any of the 28 items were of such minor significance that they should not be included in an assessment of negative life events for students. Two items were mentioned by all five judges [i.e., "student having experienced minor financial problems" and "student having experienced a minor law violation (i. …

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