Caregiver Report of Children’s Exposure to Adverse Life Events: Concordance Between Questionnaire and Interview Approaches

Austen McGuire, Yo Jackson, Damion J. Grasso, George M. Slavich, Neal Kingston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Assessment practices for measuring adverse life events (ALEs) are often characterized by considerable variability, which is associated with inconsistency and reproducibility issues when conducting research on children with ALE exposure. One aspect of assessment variability for caregiver report of children’s ALE history that has received minimal attention is assessment format. To address this issue, the current study evaluated concordance between two main ALE assessment formats: interviews and questionnaires. This involved examining overall endorsement of ALEs and concordance among multiple characteristics of ALE exposure, including type, polyvictimization, frequency, severity, and age of onset. Fifty-eight caregivers (Mage = 33.72; 60% Black; 55% below the federal poverty line) of preschool and school-age children were administered an ALE assessment in both a questionnaire and interview format across two sessions. The sum scores and concordance rates between format responses were compared based on ALE type, polyvictimization, frequency, severity, and age of onset of exposure. Results indicated that most total or sum scores were similar between formats, with the exception of ALE severity scores. However, there was most often low-to-moderate concordance across the 50 types of ALEs examined in the current study, suggesting that a different constellation of events comprised each sum or total score. This was also the case across all characteristics of the ALEs and most notably for the severity of ALE. Based on these findings, the format of assessment may be associated with inconsistent reporting of children’s ALE exposure across multiple characteristics of ALE. Researchers may need to utilize multiple types of ALE assessments when relying on caregiver report of a child’s ALEs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Interpersonal Violence
StateAccepted/In press - 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology

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