Poor symptom and performance validity in regularly referred Hospital outpatients: Link with standard clinical measures, and role of incentives

Brechje Dandachi-FitzGerald*, Björn van Twillert, Peter van de Sande, Yindee van Os, Rudolf W. H. M. Ponds

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

We investigated the frequency of symptom validity test (SVT) failure and its clinical correlates in a large, heterogeneous sample of hospital outpatients referred for psychological assessment for clinical purposes. We studied patients (N=469), who were regularly referred for assessment to the psychology departments of five hospitals. Background characteristics, including information about incentives, were obtained with a checklist completed by the clinician. As a measure of over-reporting, the Structured Inventory of Malingered Symptomatology (SIMS) was administered to all patients. The Amsterdam Short-Term Memory test (ASTM), a cognitive underperformance measure, was only administered to patients who were referred for a neuropsychological assessment. Symptom over-reporting occurred in a minority of patients, ranging from 12% to 19% in the main diagnostic patient groups. Patients with morbid obesity had a low rate of over-reporting (1%). The SIMS was positively associated with levels of self-reported psychological symptoms. Cognitive underperformance occurred in 29.3% of the neuropsychological assessments. The ASTM was negatively associated with memory test performance. We found no association between SVT failure and financial incentives. Our results support the recommendation to routinely evaluate symptom validity in clinical assessments of hospital patients. The dynamics behind invalid symptom reporting need to be further elucidated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-53
JournalPsychiatry Research
Volume239
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2016
Externally publishedYes

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