Apparent symptom overreporting in combat veterans evaluated for PTSD

Clin Psychol Rev. 2000 Oct;20(7):853-85. doi: 10.1016/s0272-7358(99)00015-x.


Psychometric studies have consistently shown that combat veterans evaluated for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) appear to overreport psychopathology as exhibited by (a) extreme and diffuse levels of psychopathology across instruments measuring different domains of mental illness, and (b) extreme elevations on the validity scale of the MMPI-MMPI-2, in a "fake-bad" direction. The phenomenon of this ubiquitous presentational style is not well understood at present. In this review we describe and delineate the assessment problem posed by this apparent symptom overreporting, and we review the literature regarding several potential explanatory factors. Finally, we address conceptual and practical issues relevant to reaching a better understanding of the phenomenon, and ultimately the clinical syndrome of combat-related PTSD, in both research and clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • MMPI
  • Malingering / diagnosis
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Veterans / psychology*