Symptoms, hassles, social supports, and life events: Problem of confounded measures

Barbara S. Dohrenwend, Bruce P. Dohrenwend, Margaret Dodson, Patrick E. Shrout

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent stressful life events are related to a wide variety of psychological and physical disorders, but the relations have tended to be minimal. This has led investigators to introduce such factors as "hassles" and "social supports" in expanded investigations of life-stressed processes. As with life events scales, however, questions have been raised about whether the conceptual and operational distinctions have been clear enough to permit clear investigation of interrelations among these factors and adverse health changes. The present study examined judgments by 371 clinical psychologists of the extent to which items in leading stress instruments are likely to be symptoms of psychological disorder. Results indicate that each of the stress measures was confounded with measures of psychological distress, the Hassles Scale and the Instrumental-Expressive Support Scale more so than the Social Readjustment Rating Scale. Types of life events and social supports are discussed in terms of their relative dependence on personality and psychopathology. (32 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2006 APA, all rights reserved).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)222-230
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1984


  • extent to which items in stress instruments confound with symptoms of psychological disorder, clinical psychologists

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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