Background: Recent extensive content analyses demonstrated that the items of the Structured Inventory of Malingered Symptomatology (SIMS) have no capacity to differentiate malingerers from legitimate medical patients: all items list or assess legitimate medical symptoms. We examined which SIMS items are the most frequently endorsed by injured motorists.
Method: De-identified archival data of 23 survivors (mean age=38.0, SD=12.8) of high impact motor vehicle accidents (MVAs) contained their SIMS scores, their responses to the Brief Pain Inventory, Morin’s Insomnia Severity Index, Rivermead Post-Concussion Symptoms Questionnaire, and to the Post-MVA Neurological Symptoms scale.
Results: All SIMS items which were endorsed by more than 43% of the patients in the directions scored by the SIMS as indicative of “malingering” were selected. Twenty-five items met this criterion. On a closer examination, all these 25 items are legitimate psychological and neuropsychological symptoms typically experienced by injured motorists, such as depression, impaired sleep, and postconcussive symptoms (memory and concentration problems, impaired balance) and whiplash symptoms (numbness in the limbs, instances of reduced muscular control over some of the limbs).
Discussion and Conclusions: The 25 endorsed items are consistent with the polytraumatic symptom profile of injured patients. In a travesty of psychological assessment, these symptoms are scored in the SIMS as denoting “malingering”.
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