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Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2009 Jul;90(7):1117-26. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2009.01.018.

Prevalence of malingering in patients with chronic pain referred for psychologic evaluation in a medico-legal context.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, University of New Orleans, New Orleans LA 70148, USA.



To provide an empirical estimate of the prevalence of malingered disability in patients with chronic pain who have financial incentive to appear disabled.


Retrospective review of cases.


A private neuropsychologic clinic in a southeastern metropolitan area.


Consecutive patients (N=508) referred for psychologic evaluation related to chronic pain over a 10-year period (1995-2005).


Not applicable.


Prevalence of malingering was examined using 2 published clinical diagnostic systems (Malingered Pain-Related Disability and Malingered Neurocognitive Dysfunction) as well as statistical estimates based on well validated indicators of malingering.


The prevalence of malingering in patients with chronic pain with financial incentive is between 20% and 50% depending on the diagnostic system used and the statistical model's underlying assumptions. Some factors associated with the medico-legal context such as the jurisdiction of a workers' compensation claim or attorney representation were associated with slightly higher malingering rates.


Malingering is present in a sizable minority of patients with pain seen for potentially compensable injuries. However, not all excess pain-related disability is a result of malingering. It is important not to diagnose malingering reflexively on the basis of limited or unreliable findings. A diagnosis of malingering should be explicitly based on a formal diagnostic system.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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