Validity assessment of early retirement claimants: Symptom overreporting on the Beck Depression Inventory–II

Anselm B.M. Fuermaier, Brechje Dandachi-Fitzgerald, Johann Lehrner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: The Beck Depression Inventory-II (BDI-II) is a commonly used clinical measure; however, it contains no method to assess validity of self-report. The primary objective of this research was to examine the possibility of cut scores on the BDI-II indicating possible invalid symptom report in forensic neuropsychological evaluations. Secondary objectives were to explore the utility of education specific cut scores and the effects of the criterion for invalid symptom report. Methods: Two hundred and seventeen early retirement claimants (age range 19–64 years) presenting for forensic neuropsychological examination were considered for this study. Invalid symptom report was determined based on two independent self-report symptom validity tests. Further, all individuals completed the BDI-II as part of their routine assessment battery. Results: Individuals with invalid symptom report (30.9%) showed significantly higher BDI-II scores compared to individuals passing symptom validity assessment. ROC analysis supports the utility of the BDI-II to differentiate valid from invalid symptom report, AUC = 0.822, SE = 0.032, p <.001, 95%-CI = 0.760–0.884. A BDI-II cut score of 38 points reached a desired level of 0.90 specificity with 0.58 sensitivity. Secondary analysis indicated that the recommended cut score may vary depending on the educational level of the examinee. Further, results seem to be largely robust against the chosen criterion for invalid symptom report. Conclusion: The BDI-II appears to be a useful adjunct embedded validity indicator in forensic neuropsychological evaluations.

Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Neuropsychology:Adult
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Apr 2023


  • Beck Depression Inventory
  • embedded validity testing
  • retirement claimants
  • symptom validity
  • validity assessment


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