Background: Psychologists contracted and remunerated by car insurance companies to evaluate the insurance claims of injured motorists work under the implied pressure to rule out malingering.
This study evaluates their use of psychological tests.
Method: 43 psychological reports were examined with respect to their use of evidently fallacious measures of malingering such as the Structured Inventory of Malingered Symptomatology (SIMS), Miller Forensic Assessment of Symptoms Test (M-FAST), Modified Somatic Perception Questionnaire (MSPQ), and also Paul Green’s Medical Symptom Validity Tests (MSVTs), i.e., of tests never properly validated to assess malingering in injured motorists.
Results and Discussion: About a half (48.9%) of the 43 psychological reports relied on the SIMS, M-FAST, or MSPQ. An additional 4 reports (9.3%) listed the test of malingering only generically as a Symptom Validity Test (SVT), but the descriptive paragraphs about its results strongly suggested that it was the SIMS. Unknown to the insurance psychologists, all 43 patients were carefully pre-screened by another agency via the Gutierrez questionnaire that assesses the presence of the typical polytraumatic psychological symptom pattern after vehicular accidents, i.e., persistent pain, pain-related insomnia, post-concussion syndrome, PTSD, depression, generalized anxiety, driving anxiety, and subjective psychological signs of spinal injury such as tingling, numbness, or reduced feeling in the limbs: all 43 reported symptoms in at least half of these symptom areas. The insurance contracted psychologists typically neglected to properly assess such typical post-accident symptoms, but declared about two-thirds of the patients (67.4%) as free of accident related psychological impairments. This rejection rate of patients’ claims seems higher than reasonably assumed rates of malingering.
Conclusions: The SIMS, M-FAST, and MSPQ were used in about a half of 43 psychological reports contracted by car insurance companies: these are fallacious tests in which legitimate psychological symptoms are scored falsely as indicators of malingering.
Keywords: malingering, SIMS, M-FAST, MSPQ, car accidents.