Published Papers - Abstract 149

Dobson A, Smith N & Pachana N. Some problems with life event lists and health outcomes. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 2005; 12(3): 199-205

Lists of life events are widely used in health outcomes research. As part of a large cohort study of women’s health in Australia, age- and gender-specific life events lists were developed and administered to women in different age groups over time. In this article, we provide empirical evidence that recall of life events is subject to telescoping (i.e.,, remote events are reported to have occurred more recently) and to mood (women with lower mental health scores report more life events, especially perceived rather than factual events). Nevertheless, even after adjustment for confounders, there is a clear association between poorer physical health and more life events. Therefore, these results demonstrate a continuing need for lists of life events in health research but also highlight the methodological challenges in using them.