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Spine J. 2014 Sep 1;14(9):2042-50. doi: 10.1016/j.spinee.2014.04.012. Epub 2014 Apr 24.

Can brief measures effectively screen for pain and somatic malingering? Examination of the Modified Somatic Perception Questionnaire and Pain Disability Index.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Kent State University, 800 E. Summit St., Kent, OH 44240, USA.
  • 2Department of Psychology, Eastern Kentucky University, 521 Lancaster Ave., Richmond, KY 40475, USA. Electronic address:
  • 3Department of Psychology, Eastern Kentucky University, 521 Lancaster Ave., Richmond, KY 40475, USA.
  • 4Interventional Pain Specialists, 165 Natchez Trace Ave., Bowling Green, KY 42103, USA.
  • 5Lexington Forensic Neuropsychiatry, 1401 Harrodsburg Road, Lexington, KY 40504, USA.



Recent rise in fraudulent disability claims in the United States has resulted in psychologists being increasingly called upon to use psychological tests to determine whether disability claims based on psychological or somatic/pain complaints are legitimate.


To examine two brief measures, Modified Somatic Perception Questionnaire (MSPQ) and the Pain Disability Index (PDI), and their ability to screen for malingering in relation to the Bianchini et al. criteria for malingered pain-related disability published in The Spine Journal (2005).


Examined brief self-report measures between litigating and nonlitigating pain samples.


We compared 144 disability litigants, predominantly presenting a history of musculoskeletal injuries with psychiatric overlay, with 167 nonlitigating pain patients who were predominantly in treatment for chronic back pain issues and other musculoskeletal conditions.


Modified Somatic Perception Questionnaire, Pain Disability Index, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2 Restructured Form, Test of Memory Malingering, Letter Memory Test, Victoria Symptom Validity Test, Structured Interview of Reported Symptoms-second edition, Structured Clinical Interview for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders somatoform disorders module.


We examined a sample of 144 individuals undergoing compensation-seeking evaluations in relation to 167 nonlitigating pain patients.


Group differences on both the MSPQ and PDI were calculated, as well as sensitivities, specificities, and positive and negative predictive powers for both measures at selected cutoffs.


The results suggest that both the MSPQ and PDI are useful to screen for pain malingering in forensic evaluations, especially the MSPQ, which performed the best in differentiating between the groups.

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


MPRD; MSPQ; Malingering; PDI; Pain; Somatic

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