Physical/psychophysiologic Symptoms Measure

Published in: Measuring Functioning and Well-Being: The Medical Outcomes Study Approach / edited by Anita L. Stewart and John E. Ware, Jr., (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1992), Chapter 15, p. 260-275

Posted on RAND.org on January 01, 1992

by Cathy D. Sherbourne, Harris Montgomery Allen, Allyson Ross Davies, Kenneth B. Wells

A physical symptom is defined as a perception, feeling, or belief about the internal state of one's body. A number of types of symptoms were included it the MOS: general physical symptoms, focusing especially on psychophysiologic sensations that can have a physical and/or psychological component; access symptoms designed to explore the patient's care-seeking behaviors when experiencing minor or serious physical symptoms; and tracer-specific symptoms or indicators directly associated with physical and/or mental problems stemming from one or more of the tracer conditions assessed in the MOS. The focus of this chapter is on developing a measure of general physical and psychophysiologic symptoms indicative of general distress or lack of well-being associated with physical and psychological problems and therefore appropriate for patients with either physical or emotional problems. Many such measures already exist, but none is appropriate in its entirety for MOS purposes, either because of length or because they were not scored to discriminate between affective and physical states. The goal of the pilot study was to identify 8 items, half physical and half psychophysiologic, that could be combined into a single general-symptom scale. The scale had a time frame and intensity format. The 8 items were fairly heterogeneous. Three primarily reflected physical health status, and three were shown to be primarily psychophysiologic. This MOS symptom measure was designed specifically to assess physical symptoms commonly experienced by persons seeking health care, especially persons with chronic medical problems and/or depression.

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