Life Change Unit (LCU)

A life change unit (LCU) is a component of the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale developed in the 1960s. Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe were interested in the influence of stress on the incidence of illness in an individual. They asked participants (who were medical patients) if they had experienced 43 stressful life events. These were the LCUs and each was given a score that weighted how stressful the event was. Each LCU has a different value of stress. The more LCUs an individual experiences increases their score. HIgher scores and higher weighted LCUs contribute to a greater likelihood that illness would occur. LCUs range from the death of a spouse (the highest score) to a minor law infraction (the lowest score). Other examples include pregnancy, beginning or ending school/college, retirement, trouble with work, divorce, being fired, being incarcerated, marriage, vacation, the holiday season, and changes in residence.

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