The Neurovegetative Complaints Questionnaire in the Maastricht Aging Study: psychometric properties and normative data

Esther Hoogenhout, Wim Van der Elst, Renate De Groot, Martin Van Boxtel, Jelle Jolles

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    Neurovegetative and somatic symptoms (such as headaches, heart palpitations, and dizziness) have a high prevalence. These symptoms are often indicative for ‘masked depression’ or ‘depression without sadness’, especially in older adults. At present, no instrument exists that enables the assessment of these symptoms. The current study presents a questionnaire that assesses neurovegetative and somatic complaints, as well as reactive emotional complaints: the ‘Neurovegetative Complaints Questionnaire’ (NCQ). The factor structure, internal consistency, and validity of the NCQ were evaluated in a large sample of 1,105 healthy subjects aged 24-81 years from the Maastricht Aging Study. The effects of age, gender and educational level on the NCQ measures were established to provide demographically corrected normative data. Two constructs underlay the responses to the NCQ items, i.e., the Neurovegetative/Somatic and Reactive/Emotional complaints factors (eigenvalues were 4.63 and 1.65 respectively, 33.0 % of the variance was explained, Pearson’s r between both factors equalled .448). Internal consistency of both scales was acceptable (i.e. Cronbach’s α = .74 and .71, respectively) and convergent validity was sufficient (Pearson’s r = |.387 - .499|). Females and older participants were characterized by more Neurovegetative/ Somatic and Reactive/Emotional complaints compared to males and younger people. Demographically corrected regression-based norms were provided for use in research and clinical settings. The NCQ is a psychometrically sound questionnaire that is specifically aimed at assessing neurovegetative/somatic and reactive/emotional complaints, symptoms that often are indicative for a ‘masked depression’.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)613-623
    Number of pages11
    JournalAging and Mental Health
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


    • aging
    • depression
    • neurovegetative complaints
    • assessment
    • questionnaire developmentneurovegetative complaints
    • Maastricht Aging Study


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