Can Children Understand and Use a Rating Scale to Quantify Somatic Symptoms? Assessment of Nausea and Vomiting as a Model

Lonnie K. Zeltzer, Samuel LeBaron, D. Michael Richie, Deborah Reed, John Schoolfield, Thomas J. Prihoda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations

Abstract

To learn whether children can use a rating scale to quantify somatic symptoms, 161 healthy children and 64 children with cancer were asked to rate nausea, vomiting, and bother in a series of vignettes with gradations of symptoms. The children's ratings were then compared with ratings made by 62 adults. The smallest variance in ratings was found in the adolescents and older children, and the variance increased with decreasing age. No significance differences were found between ratings of healthy children, children with cancer, and adults. For pairs of vignettes indicating the same time periods, vomiting was consistently rated as occurring for a longer duration and producing more bother than nausea. These findings indicate that children can use rating scales to quantify descriptions of somatic symptoms. The findings also suggest that highly distressing symptoms may be perceived as occurring for a longer duration than less bothersome symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)567-572
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of consulting and clinical psychology
Volume56
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1988

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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