Depressive symptomatology, rather than neuroticism, predicts inflated physical symptom reports in community-residing women

Document Type


Peer Reviewed


Publication Date


NLM Title Abbreviation

Psychosom Med

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Psychosomatic medicine

PubMed ID


DOI of Published Version



OBJECTIVE: To examine the roles of depressive symptomatology and neuroticism/negative affect (N/NA) on common physical symptom reporting in a sample of community residents. METHODS: Community-residing women (n = 108) participated in a combined concurrent-retrospective design. Physical symptoms were assessed concurrently over 21 consecutive days followed by a retrospective assessment of the collective symptom experience for the same time period. RESULTS: Based on evidence of differences in cognitive processing of emotion-relevant material, we predicted and found that depressive symptomatology (at baseline) was a stronger predictor of inflated physical symptom recall than N/NA. Depressive symptomatology was also a stronger, independent predictor of concurrent physical symptoms. Notably, these results were obtained even when physical depressive symptoms in both the physical symptom checklist and the baseline depression assessment were eliminated. CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest that the classic symptom perception hypothesis should be refined and operationalized in terms of depressive symptomatology rather than N/NA. This study demonstrates how cognitive-affective processing differences associated with depressive symptomatology can shed additional light on the psychology of symptom perception. Implications for treatment seeking, medical diagnoses, and treatment decisions are discussed.


Adult, Checklist, Data Collection/statistics & numerical data, Depression/diagnosis/epidemiology/psychology, Depressive Disorder/diagnosis/epidemiology/psychology, Female, Humans, Individuality, Mental Recall, Middle Aged, Neurotic Disorders/diagnosis/psychology, Personality Inventory, Questionnaires, Retrospective Studies, Severity of Illness Index, Sex Factors, Somatoform Disorders/diagnosis/epidemiology

Published Article/Book Citation

Psychosomatic medicine, 71:9 (2009) pp.951-957. DOI:doi: 10.1097/​PSY.0b013e3181b9b2d7.

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