In a survey of a random sample of the general population recent life events, collected and rated for long-term contextual threat according to the methods of Brown & Harris (1978), were also recorded where possible on an inventory of life event categories (Tennant & Andrews, 1977). Of the 82·5% of all events collected which were covered by the inventory, 12 of the 67 event categories accounted for 77% of life events with an aetiologicaly significant rating of marked or moderate long-term threat. Where practical and economic constraints oblige research workers to choose the inventory method, a brief list of event categories, such as the List of Threatening Experiences, is recommended in preference to much longer lists.
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