Simulated pain on the Symptom Checklist 90-Revised

Brian E. McGuire*, E. Arthur Shores

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    13 Citations (Scopus)


    This study investigated whether a pain clinical sample and pain simulators could be distinguished by their responses on the Symptom Checklist 90-Revised (SCL-90-R). Fifty patients with a pain condition completed the SCL-90-R under normal instructions while 20 students responded under instructions to feign a pain disorder to obtain compensation but to attempt to avoid detection. Pain patients obtained generalized elevations, with the highest scores on Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Somatization. The simulators exceeded the pain group on all clinical scales of the SCL-90-R, tending to greatly overestimate the degree of psychological distress in pain patients. Simulators had extreme elevations and were more likely to obtain a T score greater than 70 on each of the clinical scales. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive power values, and optimal diagnostic cutoff scores for the clinical scales are reported. The recommended Positive Symptom Total (PST) cutoff score for "faking bad" in the SCL manual had poor specificity. The SCL-90-R warrants further study as an aid to identifying pain simulation.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1589-1596
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
    Issue number12
    Publication statusPublished - 2001

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