The Symptom Checklist -90-Revised (SCL-90-R)

The SCL-90-R is a revised version of the original SCL-90. It is used as a screening measure of general psychiatric symptomatology (Buckelew et al. 1988). It includes dimensions measuring somatization, obsessive-compulsive, depression, anxiety, phobic anxiety, hostility, interpersonal sensitivity, paranoid ideation, and psychoticism.

Number of items: 90

Procedure/Administration: Self-report format. Patients are asked to rate the severity of their experiences with each symptom over the past week on a 5-point scale ranging from 0 (not at all) to 4 (extremely).

How scored: Three indices can be obtained. Global Severity Index (GSI) is obtained by averaging the scores over the total number of answered items. The Positive Symptom Total (PST) is the total number of items with non-zero responses and the Positive Symptom Distress Index (PSDI) is the sum of the non-zero scores divided by the PST.

Interpretability: Scores are interpreted by comparison to 4 groups of norms: adult psychiatric outpatients; adult non-patients; adult psychiatric inpatients; and adolescent non-patients.

Acceptability: The SCL-90-R has been found useful in quantifying a variety of emotional reactions in adults following SCI. The inclusion of somatic items may cause an overestimation of psychiatric symptoms.

Languages: English, Spanish and French.

Usability: The SCL-90-R requires a sixth grade reading level. The tool is best used to screen for global psychological distress.

Time to administer: 12-15 minutes to complete.

Time to score: Time is unknown but scoring the questionnaire by hand is relatively simple and computer scoring is also available.

Training required: None

Availability: A specialized degree with an appropriate license or certificate is required to purchase copyrighted forms and the manual from the publisher,

Equipment required: None


  • The SCL-90-R is best used to screen for global psychological distress and therefore may be uneconomical to use a 90-item questionnaire to obtain a single score for general distress. 
  • This questionnaire has received much research attention and as a result normative scores are available for a variety of patient and non-patient populations.

Psychometric Summary








IC: Green light*

Construct : Green light



Note: TR= Test re-test; IC= Internal Consistency; Inter-O= Inter-observer; Intra-O= Intra-observer; SS= Sensitivity/Specificity; N/a= No information

Red light= A single study involving SCI subjects which has less than adequate findings of reliability, validity, and/or responsiveness.

Yellow light= A single study involving subjects with SCI which has adequate to excellent findings of reliability, validity, and/or responsiveness.

Green light= At least 2 studies involving subjects with SCI which have adequate to excellent findings of reliability, validity, and/or responsiveness.

* was only assessed for the research subscales. To further assess IC, Pearson product-moment correlations were obtained by correlating each item with the total subscale score. Correlations ranged from 0.25 – 0.76 for the somatic depression subscale and from 0.48 – 0.86 for the cognitive/affective subscale.


  • Buckelew SP, Burk JP, Brownelee-Duffeck M, Frank RG, DeGood D. Cognitive and somatic aspects of depression among a rehabilitation sample: Reliability and Validity of SCL-90-R research subscales. Rehabilitation Psychology 1988; 33: 67-75.
  • Derogatis LR, Melisaratos N. The Brief Symptom Inventory: in introductory report. Psychol Med 1983; 13(3): 595-605.
  • Frank R, Elliot T. Life stress and psychologic adjustment following spinal cord injury. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation 1987; 68: 344-347.
  • Hardt J, Gerbershagen HU, Franke P. the symptom check-list, SCL-(90)-R: its use and characteristics in chronic pain patients. European Journal of Pain 2000; 4: 137-148.
  • Overholser JC, Schubert DSP, Foliart R, Frost F. Assessment of emotional distress following a spinal cord injury. Rehabilitation Psychology 1993; 38: 187-198.
  • Schurle Bruce A, Arnett PA. Longitudinal study of the Symptom Checklist 90-Revised in Multiple Sclerosis patients. The Clinical Neuropsychologist 2006; 22:46-59.