Symptom Exaggeration and the Risk of Violent Recidivism in Forensic Patients

  • Brenda Erens
Keywords: Symptom exaggeration, the SIMS, violent recidivism, HCR-20, crime


Research regarding the potential correlates of symptom exaggeration is sparse and can be of great relevance for those working in the forensic field. This study aimed to investigate whether exaggeration of symptoms is related to the risk of violent recidivism in forensic patients. Also, we investigated the link between symptom exaggeration and type of crime, type of drugs that have been used, and reason for dismissal. Forensic in- and outpatients (N = 96) completed the Structured Inventory of Malingered Symptomatology (SIMS), the Feigning Differentiation Scale (FEDS), and The Dissociative Experience Scale (DES). Furthermore, Historical, Clinical and Risk Management (HCR-20) scores at admission and dismissal and data about type of crime, type of drugs that have been used and reason for dismissal were collected. We expected symptom exaggeration to be related to 1. risk of violent recidivism, 2. a history of more serious offenses, 3. withdrawal or dismissal from treatment, and 4. a history of alcohol or hard drug abuse. We did not find any significant results to support our predictions. The biggest limitation of our study was the population of choice. It is suggested that future research should use multiple Symptom Validity Tests (SVTs) to investigate symptom exaggeration and remain cautious when including the newest HCR-20 version in research studies.