College of Psychology: Faculty Articles

Title

Base Rates of Malingering and Symptom Exaggeration.

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

12-2002

Keywords

Demography, Diagnosis, Disability Evaluation, Expert Testimony, Malingering, Neuropsychological Tests, Reproducibility of Results, Sick Role, Workers' Compensation

Publication Title

Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology

ISSN

1380-3395

Volume

24

Issue/No.

8

Abstract

Base rates of probable malingering and symptom exaggeration are reported from a survey of the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology membership. Estimates were based on 33,531 annual cases involved in personal injury, (n = 6,371). disability (n = 3,688), criminal (n = 1,341), or medical (n = 22,131) matters. Base rates did not differ among geographic regions or practice settings, but were related to the proportion of plaintiff versus defense referrals. Reported rates would be 2-4% higher if variance due to referral source was controlled. Twenty-nine percent of personal injury, 30% of disability, 19% of criminal, and 8% of medical cases involved probable malingering and symptom exaggeration. Thirty-nine percent of mild head injury, 35% of fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue, 31% of chronic pain, 27% of neurotoxic, and 22% of electrical injury claims resulted in diagnostic impressions of probable malingering. Diagnosis was supported by multiple sources of evidence, including severity (65% of cases) or pattern (64% of cases) of cognitive impairment that was inconsistent with the condition, scores below empirical cutoffs on forced choice tests (57% of cases), discrepancies among records, self-report, and observed behavior (56%), implausible self-reported symptoms in interview (46%), implausible changes in test scores across repeated examinations (45%), and validity scales on objective personality tests (38% of cases).

DOI

10.1076/jcen.24.8.1094.8379