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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Evaluation of Lifetime Stressors (ELS)


Evaluation of Lifetime Stressors (ELS)

Krinsley, 1996


The Evaluation of Lifetime Stressors (ELS) is a research protocol for adolescents or adults comprised of a self-report questionnaire and semi-structured interview that examines a range of traumatic experiences across the lifespan. The 56-item questionnaire assesses experiences with disasters, illnesses, accidents, violence, combat, and other traumas by offering four response options ("yes, I can remember this," "I'm not sure if this happened," "No, but this happened to someone else in my family", and "No, this did not happen"). The 56-item interview is organized into nine modules (some of which are optional) that examine the non-negative responses on the questionnaire by providing specific probe questions for each item.

The interview provides a way to explore dimensions of each trauma including trauma type, perpetrators/victims, duration, frequency, perceptions of threats and emotional response, and others. A summary of the information can be captured in the Traumatic Events Summary prepared by the interviewer. Finally, an in-depth querying interview is provided to assess the worst two or three events to examine dimensions such as dissociation, disclosure, and treatment. This measure aims for high sensitivity by allowing uncertain responses and inclusion of indirect questions that have low emotional potential.

Sample Item

Have you ever been in a war zone or other very dangerous area? ("Yes, this happened to me," "I'm not sure if this happened," "No, but this happened to someone I knew," "No, this did not happen").


Krinsley, K. E., Gallagher, J. G., Weathers, F. W., Kutter, C. J., & Kaloupek, D. G. (2003). Consistency of retrospective reporting about exposure to traumatic events. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16, 399-409. Can be retrieved from

Krinsley, K. E. (1996). Psychometric review of The Evaluation of Lifetime Stressors Questionnaire & Interview. In B. H. Stamm (Ed.) Measurement of stress, trauma, and adaptation. Luberville, MD: Sidran Press.

Additional Reviews

Orsillo (2001) (PDF) p. 299.

Orsillo, Susan M. (2001). Measures for acute stress disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. In M.M. Antony & S.M. Orsillo (Eds.), Practitioner's guide to empirically based measures of anxiety (pp. 255-307). New York: KluwerAcademic/Plenum. PILOTS ID 24368

To Obtain the Measure

D. Kaloupek, PhD
National Center for PTSD (116B-2)
VA Boston Healthcare System
150 South Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02130

Measure availability: Information on measures is available to everyone. However, the assessment tools themselves can only be distributed to qualified mental health professionals and researchers. We maintain measures developed by affiliated staff of the National Center for PTSD.

Date this content was last updated is at the bottom of the page.

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Where to Get Help for PTSD

Using the PILOTS database for Assessment Information
The PILOTS database is the largest electronic index to the world's literature on traumatic stress.

The National Center for PTSD does not provide direct clinical care, individual referrals or benefits information.

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