Development and psychometric characteristics of the DSS-4 as a short instrument to assess dissociative experience during neuropsychological experiments

Psychopathology. 2009;42(6):370-4. doi: 10.1159/000236908. Epub 2009 Sep 15.


Background/aims: Until now, no brief self-report instrument for the assessment of dissociative states comprising somatoform and psychological items has been available. Thus, we developed a brief instrument for repeated assessment of dissociation during single neuropsychological experiments and neuroimaging.

Methods: Based on specific criteria, 4 items were derived from an already existing scale for the assessment of dissociative symptoms (Dissociation-Tension Scale acute, DSS-acute). These 4 items were presented to a total of 142 female patients with different disorders and healthy controls every hour over a 48-hour period. Data acquisition was done with a handheld PC.

Results: Inner consistency, reliability and differential validity can be considered to be good or excellent. The DSS-4 was sensitive to changing symptomatology within the 48-hour period and additionally within a 3-hour period.

Conclusion: Taken together, our newly developed instrument provides a reliable and easy-to-use tool for the assessment of psychological and somatic aspects of dissociative states, for example for the use at multiple times during single neuropsychological experiments or neuroimaging. There are some indicators that the DSS-4 is a valid instrument.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Dissociative Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*