The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale

Source: MindTools –

In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe performed a study to find out whether stress contributed to illness. They surveyed more than 5,000 medical patients asking asked them to say whether they had experience any of a series of 43 life events in the previous two years. Each event, called a Life Change Unit (LCU), had a different weight for stress. The more events the patient added up, the higher the score. The higher the score, and the larger the weight of each event, the more likely the patient was to become ill.

This is the scale with items listed in order from the stressor that most often correlated with having had an illness in the previous two years at the top of the list to the stressor that least often correlated with having an illness at the bottom of the list:

1 Death of spouse

2 Divorce

3 Marital separation

4 Jail term

5 Death of close family member

6 Personal injury or illness

7 Marriage

8 Fired at work

9 Marital reconciliation

10 Retirement

11 Change in health of family member

12 Pregnancy

13 Sex difficulties

14 Gain of new family member

15 Business readjustment

16 Change in financial state

17 Death of close friend

18 Change to a different line of work

19 Change in number of arguments with spouse

20 A large mortgage or loan

21 Foreclosure of mortgage or loan

22 Change in responsibilities at work

23 Son or daughter leaving home

24 Trouble with in-laws

25 Outstanding personal achievement

26 Spouse begins or stops work

27 Begin or end school/college

28 Change in living conditions

29 Revision of personal habits

30 Trouble with boss

31 Change in work hours or conditions

32 Change in residence

33 Change in school/college

34 Change in recreation

35 Change in church activities

36 Change in social activities

37 A moderate loan or mortgage

38 Change in sleeping habits

39 Change in number of family get-togethers

40 Change in eating habits

41 Vacation

42 Christmas

43 Minor violations of the law

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