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PTSD: National Center for PTSD

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Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (LEC-5)


Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (LEC-5)


The Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (LEC-5) is a self-report measure designed to screen for potentially traumatic events in a respondent's lifetime. The LEC-5 assesses exposure to 16 events known to potentially result in PTSD or distress and includes one additional item assessing any other extraordinarily stressful event not captured in the first 16 items.

Changes from Previous LEC for DSM-IV

The LEC was originally developed concurrently with the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale for DSM-IV (CAPS) to be administered before the CAPS. The LEC demonstrated adequate psychometric properties as a stand-alone assessment of traumatic exposure, particularly when evaluating consistency of events that actually happened to a respondent.

The original LEC also demonstrated convergent validity with measures assessing varying levels of exposure to potentially traumatic events and psychopathology known to relate to traumatic exposure. However, the LEC did not establish that the respondent has experienced an event with sufficient severity to meet DSM-IV criteria for a traumatic exposure.

Changes between the original LEC and LEC-5 are minimal:

  • Item 15 "Sudden, unexpected death of someone close to you" was changed to "Sudden accidental death"
  • Response category "Part of my job" was added

Psychometrics are not currently available for the LEC-5. Given the minimal revisions from the original version of the LEC, few psychometric differences are expected.


The LEC-5 is intended to gather information about the potentially traumatic experiences a person has experienced. There is no formal scoring protocol or interpretation per se, other than identifying whether a person has experienced one or more of the events listed. Respondents indicate varying levels of exposure to each type of potentially traumatic event included on a 6-point nominal scale, and respondents may endorse multiple levels of exposure to the same trauma type. The LEC-5 does not yield a total score or composite score.


The LEC-5 is often used in combination with other measures (e.g., CAPS-5, PCL-5) for the purpose of establishing exposure to a PTSD Criterion A traumatic event.

Three formats of the LEC-5 are available:

  • Standard self-report: to establish if an event occurred
  • Extended self-report: to establish worst event if more than one event occurred
  • Interview: to establish if Criterion A is met

Sample Item

  • Item: Natural disaster (for example, flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake)
  • Response: Happened to me; Witnessed it; Learned about it; Part of my job; Not sure; Doesn't apply


Weathers, F.W., Blake, D.D., Schnurr, P.P., Kaloupek, D.G., Marx, B.P., & Keane, T.M. (2013). The Life Events Checklist for DSM-5 (LEC-5). Instrument available from the National Center for PTSD at

References (LEC for DSM-IV)

Gray, M., Litz, B., Hsu, J., & Lombardo, T. (2004). Psychometric properties of the Life Events Checklist. (PDF) Assessment, 11, 330-341. doi: 10.1177/1073191104269954 PILOTS ID: 26825

To Obtain Scale

This measure was created by staff at VA's National Center for PTSD.

Download the Life Events Checklist for DSM-5:

Are you using this measure with U.S. Veterans or Service members?

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Our PTSD Consultation Program can answer administration or scoring questions: or 866-948-7880.

Measure availability: We provide information on a variety of measures assessing trauma and PTSD. These measures are intended for use by qualified mental health professionals and researchers. Measures authored by National Center staff are available as direct downloads or by request. Measures developed outside of the National Center can be requested via contact information available on the information page for the specific measure.

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PTSD Information Voice Mail: (802) 296-6300
Also see: VA Mental Health