The Health Anxiety Inventory

It’s remarkable how many ways I’ve discovered that doctors will evaluate a fibro patient’s pain level.

  • Visual Analogue Scale
  • Fisher’s Dolorimeter
  • Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQ)
  • Revised Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire (FIQR)
  • Brief Pain Inventory (BPI)
  • Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory (MFI-20)
  • Medical Outcomes Study (MOS) Sleep Scale
  • Multiple Ability Self-Report Questionnaire (MASQ)
  • Illness Behavior Questionnaire (IBQ)
  • Minnesota Multi-Phasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
  • Illness Attitude Scale (IAS)
  • The Whitely Index


There are more, and I just found another: The Health Anxiety Inventory (HAI – see Salkovskis in the library). This one is particularly useful because if focuses on picking up hypochondriasis.  Yep, it tells the doctor whether or not he or she is working with a hypochondriac, or how much of a hypochondriac the patient is. To be fair, the authors point out that this inventory is useful to determine whether patients are hypochondriacs or whether they are suffering from a panic anxiety disorder. I’m afraid I can’t really discern the difference between the two.  Isn’t hypochondriasis a form of anxiety disorder?

I understand the need for doctors to understand personality types.  The authors point out that this inventory helps doctors know how will people with chronic (non-lethal) pain will react to simple reassurances. Will that person accept the reassurances and understand they are okay, even though they don’t feel okay?  Will that person likely go on for second, third, or fourth opinions? Does the patient need psychological treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy to cope with chronic pain? It does make sense and it can be used as a tool to give fibro patients the best care possible. I’ll choose to believe that is why all these inventories are developed.

However, much like the way doctors are preoccupied with classifying fibromyalgia as a disorder, there seems to be a preoccupation with classifying the patients too. Is it possible that doctors are overthinking the problem? It’s really very simple in a lot of ways, even though it is a complex disorder and everyone is different.  Fibro patients need:

  • Pain management options – not just one. Everyone is different.
  • Mood management options – heck yes, we get cranky and down.
  • Exercise options – if you don’t move it, you’ll lose it.
  • Dietary advise – not diet fads.
  • A proper, kind, non-judgmental ear – whether from a doctor or a support system.

When we are constantly given mood inventories, pain inventories, it just reinforces the suspicion that doctors don’t believe us. At the same time it reinforces that there is something wrong with us.

I don’t want to be classified anymore. So I won’t be.


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