Protocol - Life Events - Adult

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The Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ) is a self-administered questionnaire to assess current and prior exposure to potentially traumatic events (e.g., from natural disasters to sexual abuse). Follow-up probes ask whether respondents felt fear, helplessness, or horror during any event experienced. Additional questions ask about physical injury and immediate emotional response to the event. For exposure to multiple events, respondents are asked to indicate which event they perceive as the worst.

Specific Instructions

The Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ) is a proprietary instrument and administration requires a licensing agreement from Western Psychological Services. The Social Environments Working Group recommends that the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ) be used to screen for prior exposure to traumatic events that can lead to mental health problems, such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Limited Availability


Summary of the Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire

The Traumatic Life Events Scale captures exposure to 21 traumatic events, proceeding from general (natural disasters and car accidents) to highly personal (death of a loved one and sexual abuse). The items include follow-up probes asking whether respondents felt fear, helplessness, or horror during any event experienced and whether there was a physical injury or an immediate emotional response. For exposure to multiple events, respondents are asked to indicate which event they perceive as the worst and how much distress it caused.

Scoring Instructions

Results include the total number of events experienced, the number of events that produced feelings of fear, helplessness or horror, the total number of episodes reported, and the event that caused the most distress.

Personnel and Training Required

No specific training is needed if data are collected through a self-administered questionnaire.

Equipment Needs

These questions can be administered in a computerized or noncomputerized format (i.e., paper-and pencil instrument). Computer software is necessary to develop computer-assisted self-interview (CASI) instruments, and a laptop computer or handheld computer will be needed to administer the questionnaire.

Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Self-administered questionnaire




Adults, aged 18 years and older

Selection Rationale

The Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ) was selected because it is a widely used, protocol with demonstrated reliability and validity.


Chinese, English

Logical Observation Identifiers Names and Codes (LOINC) Life events adult proto 63041-8 LOINC
Derived Variables


Process and Review

The Expert Review Panel #2 (ERP 2) reviewed the measures in the Demographics, Environmental Exposures, and Social Environments domains.

Guidance from ERP 2 includes:

• Revised descriptions of the measure

Back-compatible: no changes to Data Dictionary

Previous version in Toolkit archive (link)

Protocol Name from Source

Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ)


The Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire (TLEQ) is a proprietary instrument included in the Trauma Assessment Inventories™ available from Western Psychological Services:

Western Psychological Services
12031 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90025-1251
Telephone: 800.648.8857
E-mail: research@wpspublish.com

General References

Dohrenwend, B. P. (2006). Inventorying stressful life events as risk factors for psychopathology: Toward resolution of the problem of intracategory variability. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 3, 477-495.

Kubany, E. S., Haynes, S. N., Leisen, M. B., Owens, J. A., Kaplan, A. S., Watson, S. B., & Burns, K. (2000). Development and preliminary validation of a brief broad-spectrum measure of trauma exposure: The Traumatic Life Events Questionnaire. Psychological Assessment, 12, 210-224.

Protocol ID


Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
PX211502000000 Protocol 211502 - proprietary. Check DCW for more
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Social Environments
Measure Name

Life Events

Release Date

October 8, 2010


This measure is a questionnaire to assess the respondent’s exposure to a broad range of life events.


This measure allows researchers to examine the occurrence of traumatic life events and the respondent’s assessment of the physical and emotional responses to the events. Traumatic life events have been associated with many indicators of physical and emotional distress, including psychopathological symptoms and disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).


Social environments, life events, stress, resilience, Adverse Life Events Scale, psychopathology, adjustment, risk factor, protective factor, resource factor, proprietary

Measure Protocols
Protocol ID Protocol Name
211501 Life Events - Child
211502 Life Events - Adult

There are no publications listed for this protocol.