Standardized Assessment Instruments

Psychometric instruments offer another way to assess somatic symptoms (Abbey 1996). The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (Butcher et al. 1989) has been used to detect malingering and characterological problems in adult patients (Abbey 1996). The Children's Somatization Inventory (Walker et al. 1993), a 35-item self-report scale with child and parent versions, provides information about pediatric somatic symptoms over the 2 weeks prior to assessment (Campo and Fritz 2001). It may be used in children as young as age 7 years. Factor analysis performed on the Children's Somatization Inventory yields four factors—pseudoneurological symptoms, cardiovascular symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, and pain/weakness—which resemble the diagnostic categories for somatization disorder.

This instrument can be complemented with the Functional Disability Inventory (Walker and Greene 1989), a 15-item scale, also with parent and child versions, which assesses functional disability over the past 2 weeks related to the child's physical health problems. The Functional Disability Inventory correlates with both school absences and somatic symptom reports (Campo and Fritz 2001).

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