Traumatic experiences assessed with the life events checklist for Kenyan adults

Document Type



Internal Medicine (East Africa)


Background: Life Events Checklist (LEC-5) has been widely used to assess for exposure to potentially traumatic life events (PTEs), but its psychometric properties have not been evaluated in Kenya. The objectives of this study were to determine the frequency and types of PTEs within this setting and to examine the construct validity of LEC-5 in Kenya.

Methods: The LEC-5 was administered to 5316 participants in the ongoing multisite case–control study of Neuropsychiatric Genetics of African Populations-Psychosis. We used exploratory factor analysis to assess LEC-5 structure, and conducted confirmatory factor analyses to compare these results with two other models: a six- factor model based on the only prior EFA of the LEC and a theoretical seven-factor model.

Results: The majority (63.4% overall and 64.4% of cases and 62.4% of controls) of participants had experienced at least one PTE in their lifetime. Results of the exploratory factor analyses for LEC-5 yielded a seven-factor solution with eigenvalues greater than one, accounting for 55.3% of the common variance. Based on confir- matory factor analyses, all three models had good fit for our sample, but the theoretical seven-factor model had the best fit.

Limitations: The study did not assess if the participants perceived experiences as traumatic, we did not carry out test retest reliability or and we did not consider cultural variations in perception of trauma. Conclusion: This study provides evidence of a high prevalence of traumatic life events and for the construct validity of LEC-5 in assessing PTE exposures in a Kenyan setting.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Journal of Affective Disorders