Wahler Physical Symptoms Inventory

Purpose: Designed to measure the degree of physical or somatic complaints endorsed by an individual.

Population: Ages 16 and over.

Score: Raw and decile scores.

Time: Administration time not reported.

Author: H.J. Wahler.

Publisher: Western Psychological Services.

Description: The Wahler Physical Symptoms Inventory (WPSI) is an instrument designed to measure the degree of physical or somatic complaints endorsed by an individual. Wahler designed the inventory to specifically include those complaints considered to be exclusively somatic in composition, eliminating items of a psychological nature. H. J. Wahler developed the questionnaire in the late 1960s in an attempt to aid professionals in their delineation or differential diagnosis of physical and/or psychological problems.

Scoring: The examiner subtracts the number of omits and double ratings from the total number of items; then, all of the remaining ratings are summed and then divided by the number of items on which they are based (total number minus omitted and double-marked items). This final number constitutes the WPSI score. In order to make these scores more meaningful, raw scores can be converted into deciles, and a decile table is provided in the WPSI manual. The deciles and their corresponding raw scores are derived from normative data based on the psychiatric patient's responses to the WPSI.

Reliability: Internal consistency is excellent, ranging from .85 to .94. Wahler also measured the reliability of the WPSI based on test-retest administrations. Because the instrument was constructed to measure the presence of somatic complaints at the time of testing, it is conceivable and highly likely that complaints would change over time, given the remission or acquisition of physical problems. It is not surprising, then, that reliability coefficients varied considerably with the passage of time (ranging from .45 to .94).

Validity: The author based concurrent validation on scores obtained from groups who would be "expected" to report and emphasize somatic symptomatology. Not surprisingly, those individuals with physical disabilities, psychiatric problems, and those who had applied for Social Security disability demonstrated greater complaining behavior when compared to the student samples. Wahler did obtain correlations between the WPSI and all subscales of the MMPI, most of which were significant at the < .05 level. However, the strongest relationship was between the MMPI Hs and Hy subscales and the WPSI.

Norms: Norm groups included college, physically disabled, and people applying for Social Security compensation populations.

Suggested Uses: Recommended for use as a screening instrument in clinical and research settings.