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PLoS One. 2009;4(5):e5614. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0005614. Epub 2009 May 19.

Body awareness: construct and self-report measures.

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  • 1Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California, United States of America.



Heightened body awareness can be adaptive and maladaptive. Improving body awareness has been suggested as an approach for treating patients with conditions such as chronic pain, obesity and post-traumatic stress disorder. We assessed the psychometric quality of selected self-report measures and examined their items for underlying definitions of the construct.


PubMed, PsychINFO, HaPI, Embase, Digital Dissertations Database.


Abstracts were screened; potentially relevant instruments were obtained and systematically reviewed. Instruments were excluded if they exclusively measured anxiety, covered emotions without related physical sensations, used observer ratings only, or were unobtainable. We restricted our study to the proprioceptive and interoceptive channels of body awareness. The psychometric properties of each scale were rated using a structured evaluation according to the method of McDowell. Following a working definition of the multi-dimensional construct, an inter-disciplinary team systematically examined the items of existing body awareness instruments, identified the dimensions queried and used an iterative qualitative process to refine the dimensions of the construct.


From 1,825 abstracts, 39 instruments were screened. 12 were included for psychometric evaluation. Only two were rated as high standard for reliability, four for validity. Four domains of body awareness with 11 sub-domains emerged. Neither a single nor a compilation of several instruments covered all dimensions. Key domains that might potentially differentiate adaptive and maladaptive aspects of body awareness were missing in the reviewed instruments.


Existing self-report instruments do not address important domains of the construct of body awareness, are unable to discern between adaptive and maladaptive aspects of body awareness, or exhibit other psychometric limitations. Restricting the construct to its proprio- and interoceptive channels, we explore the current understanding of the multi-dimensional construct and suggest next steps for further research.

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