Alexithymia as a potential source of symptom over-reporting: An exploratory study in forensic patients and non-forensic participants

Harald Merckelbach, Chinouk Prins, Irena Boskovic, Isabella Niesten, Joost À Campo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

The traditional interpretation of symptom over-reporting is that it indicates malingering. We explored a different perspective, namely that over-reporting of eccentric symptoms is related to deficits in articulating internal experiences (i.e., alexithymia). Given that alexithymia has been linked to sleep problems and that fatigue may fuel inattentive responding to symptom lists, we administered measures of alexithymia (TAS-20) and symptom over-reporting (SIMS), but also sleep quality (SLEEP-50) to forensic psychiatric outpatients (n = 40) and non-forensic participants (n = 40). Forensic patients scored significantly higher on all three indices than non-forensic participants. In the total sample as well as in subsamples, over-reporting correlated positively and significantly with alexithymia, with rs being in the 0.50-0.65 range. Sleep problems were also related to over-reporting, but in the full sample and in the forensic subsample, alexithymia predicted variance in over-reporting over and above sleep problems. Although our study is cross-sectional in nature, its results indicate that alexithymia as a potential source of over-reporting merits systematic research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-197
Number of pages6
JournalScandinavian Journal of Psychology
Volume59
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018

Keywords

  • Alexithymia
  • malingering
  • symptom over-reporting
  • forensic sample
  • sleep
  • POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER
  • CARELESS
  • VALIDITY
  • SCALE
  • PERSONALITY
  • ANHEDONIA
  • VETERANS
  • FEATURES
  • ADULTS
  • SLEEP
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Criminals
  • Mental Disorders/physiopathology
  • Male
  • Young Adult
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Affective Symptoms/physiopathology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Self Report
  • Sleep Wake Disorders/physiopathology
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation

Cite this

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title = "Alexithymia as a potential source of symptom over-reporting: An exploratory study in forensic patients and non-forensic participants",
abstract = "The traditional interpretation of symptom over-reporting is that it indicates malingering. We explored a different perspective, namely that over-reporting of eccentric symptoms is related to deficits in articulating internal experiences (i.e., alexithymia). Given that alexithymia has been linked to sleep problems and that fatigue may fuel inattentive responding to symptom lists, we administered measures of alexithymia (TAS-20) and symptom over-reporting (SIMS), but also sleep quality (SLEEP-50) to forensic psychiatric outpatients (n = 40) and non-forensic participants (n = 40). Forensic patients scored significantly higher on all three indices than non-forensic participants. In the total sample as well as in subsamples, over-reporting correlated positively and significantly with alexithymia, with rs being in the 0.50-0.65 range. Sleep problems were also related to over-reporting, but in the full sample and in the forensic subsample, alexithymia predicted variance in over-reporting over and above sleep problems. Although our study is cross-sectional in nature, its results indicate that alexithymia as a potential source of over-reporting merits systematic research.",
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author = "Harald Merckelbach and Chinouk Prins and Irena Boskovic and Isabella Niesten and {{\`A} Campo}, Joost",
note = "{\circledC} 2018 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.",
year = "2018",
month = "4",
doi = "10.1111/sjop.12427",
language = "English",
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journal = "Scandinavian Journal of Psychology",
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Alexithymia as a potential source of symptom over-reporting : An exploratory study in forensic patients and non-forensic participants. / Merckelbach, Harald; Prins, Chinouk; Boskovic, Irena; Niesten, Isabella; À Campo, Joost.

In: Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, Vol. 59, No. 2, 04.2018, p. 192-197.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Alexithymia as a potential source of symptom over-reporting

T2 - An exploratory study in forensic patients and non-forensic participants

AU - Merckelbach, Harald

AU - Prins, Chinouk

AU - Boskovic, Irena

AU - Niesten, Isabella

AU - À Campo, Joost

N1 - © 2018 Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

PY - 2018/4

Y1 - 2018/4

N2 - The traditional interpretation of symptom over-reporting is that it indicates malingering. We explored a different perspective, namely that over-reporting of eccentric symptoms is related to deficits in articulating internal experiences (i.e., alexithymia). Given that alexithymia has been linked to sleep problems and that fatigue may fuel inattentive responding to symptom lists, we administered measures of alexithymia (TAS-20) and symptom over-reporting (SIMS), but also sleep quality (SLEEP-50) to forensic psychiatric outpatients (n = 40) and non-forensic participants (n = 40). Forensic patients scored significantly higher on all three indices than non-forensic participants. In the total sample as well as in subsamples, over-reporting correlated positively and significantly with alexithymia, with rs being in the 0.50-0.65 range. Sleep problems were also related to over-reporting, but in the full sample and in the forensic subsample, alexithymia predicted variance in over-reporting over and above sleep problems. Although our study is cross-sectional in nature, its results indicate that alexithymia as a potential source of over-reporting merits systematic research.

AB - The traditional interpretation of symptom over-reporting is that it indicates malingering. We explored a different perspective, namely that over-reporting of eccentric symptoms is related to deficits in articulating internal experiences (i.e., alexithymia). Given that alexithymia has been linked to sleep problems and that fatigue may fuel inattentive responding to symptom lists, we administered measures of alexithymia (TAS-20) and symptom over-reporting (SIMS), but also sleep quality (SLEEP-50) to forensic psychiatric outpatients (n = 40) and non-forensic participants (n = 40). Forensic patients scored significantly higher on all three indices than non-forensic participants. In the total sample as well as in subsamples, over-reporting correlated positively and significantly with alexithymia, with rs being in the 0.50-0.65 range. Sleep problems were also related to over-reporting, but in the full sample and in the forensic subsample, alexithymia predicted variance in over-reporting over and above sleep problems. Although our study is cross-sectional in nature, its results indicate that alexithymia as a potential source of over-reporting merits systematic research.

KW - Alexithymia

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KW - symptom over-reporting

KW - forensic sample

KW - sleep

KW - POSTTRAUMATIC-STRESS-DISORDER

KW - CARELESS

KW - VALIDITY

KW - SCALE

KW - PERSONALITY

KW - ANHEDONIA

KW - VETERANS

KW - FEATURES

KW - ADULTS

KW - SLEEP

KW - Humans

KW - Middle Aged

KW - Criminals

KW - Mental Disorders/physiopathology

KW - Male

KW - Young Adult

KW - Adult

KW - Female

KW - Affective Symptoms/physiopathology

KW - Cross-Sectional Studies

KW - Self Report

KW - Sleep Wake Disorders/physiopathology

KW - Diagnostic Self Evaluation

U2 - 10.1111/sjop.12427

DO - 10.1111/sjop.12427

M3 - Article

C2 - 29349809

VL - 59

SP - 192

EP - 197

JO - Scandinavian Journal of Psychology

JF - Scandinavian Journal of Psychology

SN - 0036-5564

IS - 2

ER -