Creator: Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach (IfD)
Contributor: Fahrenberg, Jochen
Title: Freiburg Complaint Checklist. Primary data from the standardization sample 1993.
Year of Publication: 2010
Citation: Fahrenberg, J. (2010). Freiburg Complaint Checklist. Primary data from the standardization sample 1993. [Translated Title] (Version 1.0.0) [Data and Documentation]. Trier: Center for Research Data in Psychology: PsychData of the Leibniz Institute for Psychology ZPID. https://doi.org/10.5160/psychdata.fgjn93fr19
The Freiburger Beschwerdenliste (FBL, Freiburg complaint list) is a questionnaire assessing physical symptoms/complaints in adolescents and adults (aged 16 years to old age). The current or situationally induced and chronic habitual physical complaints are structured by functional syndromes and organ systems. The sum value of the items is an index of physical complaint inclinations (tendency to complain).
The scales are: general condition, emotional reactivity, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, head-neck, tenseness, sensory, pain, motor, skin, and total score
The FBL was developed through the process of repeated item and factor analysis of an initial collection of 230 questions. It was then reduced to 78 items in 10 scales plus the total score. The analyses showed that the response to “frequency” or “intensity” of the complaints led largely to structurally equivalent solutions. This first version of the Freiburg complaint list was tested on a broad sample of 330 healthy subjects and patients as well as a relatively homogeneous group of 400 college students. The correlations with patient history and other clinical criteria have been described elsewhere (Fahrenberg, 1966, 1975, Hampel & Fahrenberg 1982).
In 1993, in collaboration with the Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach (IfD – Institute for Public Opinion Research), a representative survey (2,070 participants) was conducted to reconstruct, standardize, and verify the test methodology of the FBL (Fahrenberg, 1994). By means of cluster analysis and factor analysis, these statistical analyses confirmed 4 of the 10 scales in a satisfactory manner while a modified item selection was suggested for the other scales. The scale “tiredness” was newly formed, and the items of the “motor” scale were either reassigned to the “tenseness” scale or eliminated altogether. The 4 scales “cardiovascular”, “gastrointestinal”, “emotional reactivity”, and “sensory” are identical in both versions. The revised FBL-R is methodologically superior to the existing FBL-G. The FBL-G will continue to be available in the original version with 10 scales and 78 items, to enable comparisons with earlier studies. The questionnaire contains 80 items, so that both the scale scores of the FBL-R and the FBL-G can be evaluated.
FBL-R is a revised version of the FBL, with 71 items in 9 scales: general condition (8 items), tiredness (7 items), cardiovascular complaints (8 items), gastrointestinal complaints (8 items), head-neck irritation syndrome (8 items), tenseness (8 items), emotional reactivity (8 items), pain (8 items), sensory (8 items), and total sum of complaints (of the 71 items).
The representative survey sample also provided, beyond the FBL data, sociodemographic and psychological data of interest. In addition to the block of 80 FBL items, the questionnaire contained questions addressing occupational stress, life satisfaction, risk factors, physician visits, medication, psychotherapy, etc.
The FBL-R can be used in personality research for the assessment of the individual inclination to complain as well as in the area of clinical psychological diagnostics: for screening, diagnostics, for indication and supervision in psychotherapy, rehabilitation, and health psychology, as well as in work and organizational psychology. Physical problems also affect general life satisfaction.
Research Questions/Hypotheses: The survey was not intended to test hypotheses, but was used to reconstruct the 10 scales of the FBL into a representative data set collection.
Research Design: Normalized Test Procedure; single measurement
Measurement Instruments/Apparatus: Theoretical Background
Physical complaints are multi-referential structures, the development of which is affected not only by subjective body perception but also by a person’s knowledge of popular medical and interpretations of physical symptoms. The FBL is based on such concepts that have been collected and constructed based on representative populations. The FBL is not a medical or pathophysiologically oriented questionnaire, but rather a standardized methodology-testing and self-assessment process. The FBL refers to a fairly wide range of physical ailments and disorders, avoiding preselections that are one-sided or based on very specific concepts, such as “somatoform disorders”.
For the reconstruction of the FBL the entire dataset (2,070) was used. The analyses were performed with the corresponding programs from the SAS/STAT (SAS Institute Inc.) and from FREISTAT (Dipl.-Math F. Foerster) and the MicroCAT Testing System (Assessment Systems Corporation). Generally, no missing data were replaced, but rather a reduced number of subjects (pairwise exclusion) was used.
Results of the reconstruction
Results of the factor analyses of the 78 items showed that the cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, head and throat pain syndrome, pain, and sensory scales could be reproduced quite well. However, emotional reactivity, motor, and skin items remained insufficiently differentiated. Still, the cluster analysis of the 78 items agreed much better with the previous item-scale mapping. Only 7 items were assigned to other clusters as was previously anticipated. These items were the FBL tension scale and other items that addressed global problems and impairments. The inclusion of 2 new items (79 and 80) facilitated a more concise content restructuring of the area general complaints into 2 scales: general complaints, including a wider range of complaints, and a new fatigue scale.
Structure of the questionnaire
The 80 questionnaire items were consolidated into 9 physical complaints categories:
(1) general symptoms (8 items)
(2) fatigue (7 Items)
(3) cardiovascular disorders (8 Items)
(4) gastrointestinal symptoms (8 items)
(5) head and throat pain syndrome (8 Items)
(6) tension (8 Items)
(7) emotional reactivity (8 Items)
(8) pain (8 items)
(9) sensory (8 Items)
Answers were given using 5-point response scales that refer to the frequency of the complaint: “almost every day”, “approximately 3 times a week”, “about 2 times a month,” “about 2 times a year”, or “never”. The FBL can be evaluated using the provided test manual instructions and the usual standards; however, it also requires an evaluation of the person being examined (see test manual). The consistency coefficient (Cronbach’s alpha) of the FBL-R scales range from .73 (general health) to .90 (cardiovascular) to .95 (total complaints). The FBL-G scales’ consistency coefficients also range between .73 (skin) to .90 (cardiovascular) to .95 (total complaints). The stability coefficients of the FRC-G are included in the hand guide. Together, the scale values produced medium-range correlations.
Data Collection Method:
Data collection in the presence of an experimenter
– Individual Administration
– Paper and Pencil
Population: Population of the Federal Republic of Germany (old and new states) aged 16 years or older
Survey Time Period:
Sample: Quota sample
50,9% female subjects
49,1% male subjects
Age Distribution: 13-24 years
Spatial Coverage (Country/Region/City): Germany
Subject Recruitment: The survey was representative of the German population aged 16 years or older following a selection process which considered state, county government, city size, gender, age, employment, and occupational status. Around 500 survey contracts, made up of 5 interviews each, were distributed at the provincial and local government districts according to 6 population-based size classes. Within these districts, the interviewer was informed about the gender in combination with age as well as the employment status in combination with both gender and the different professional circles.
In the new states, according to the survey plan of the IfD, disproportionately more people were interviewed in order to achieve a sufficient depth of survey data. In this case, if generalized statements about the population of Germany were sought, a weight of about 80:20 to the population in the West (1,017) and the east (1,024) would have to be made. However, the differences in socio-demographic characteristics between these 2 subsamples are so slight that the need for such a weighting in the design of the questionnaire is unnecessary.
The survey was conducted in the autumn of 1993 in conjunction with a standard multitopic survey. The questionnaire was presented at the end of the interview. It had the same number as the initial interview so that both remained anonymous but could be evaluated together. The FBL was to be completed in the presence of the interviewer per the usual FBL-test requirement. When this procedure was rejected, the questionnaire was either retrieved later or sent back via postal services. Each interviewer was additionally compensated for questionnaires that were either filled out in their presence or personally retrieved later.
Sample Size: 2070 individuals
Return/DropOut: In the survey a total of 2,129 questionnaires involving 2,210 interviews were are obtained, of which 45 questionnaires were discarded due to large gaps. Among the remaining 2,084 questionnaires, 229 (based on the 78 items FBL) were missing a single response, 65 were missing 2 responses, 23 were missing 3 responses, and 14 were missing 4 or more responses. Only 3 missing responses (about 4% missing data) were allowed. In 176 of the remaining 2,070 questionnaires, additional questions concerning satisfaction, doctor visits, and medication went unanswered. These questionnaires were not eliminated (see test manual). For 2,041 of the 2,070 questionnaires, allocation to the IfD data was possible; the remaining 29 questionnaires are turned in late, but they were included in the FBL analyses.