• Screening measure of general psychiatric symptomatology
  • Items include dimensions measuring somatization, obsessive-compulsive, depression, anxiety, phobic anxiety, hostility, interpersonal sensitivity, paranoid ideation, and psychoticism.
  • Can be used to screen for psychiatric disorders and has been found useful in quantifying a variety of emotional reactions in adults following SCI

Clinical Considerations

  • The SCL-90-R is best used to screen for global psychological 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.
  • The instrument requires a reading knowledge equivalent to that of a sixth grade education.

ICF Domain

Body Function ▶ Mental Functions


  • Self-report questionnaire
  • Patients are asked to rate the severity of their experiences with 90 symptoms over the past week on a 5-point scale ranging from 0 ‘not at all’ to 4 ‘extremely’.
  • The symptoms are assigned to 9 dimensions reflecting various types of psychopathology.
  • Administration time is usually less than 15 minutes.

Number of Items





Items are summed for a total score


The instrument is available in English, Spanish and French.

Training Required

Does not require advanced training.


Can be purchased here.

Starter kits are approximately $50.

# of studies reporting psychometric properties: 2


  • The SCL-90-R is normed for 4 groups: adult psychiatric outpatients; adult non-patients; adult psychiatric inpatients; and adolescent non-patients. This information is available in the SCL-90-R manual.
  • There is no normative data for the SCI population at this time.

MCID: not established
SEM: not established
MDC: not established


  • Internal consistency of the cognitive/affective depression subscale is excellent (Cronbach’s a = 0.89).
  • Internal consistency of the somatic depression subscale is adequate (Cronbach’s a = 0.62).

(Buckelew et al. 1988)


The SCL-90-R subscales were correlated with the Medically-Based Emotional Distress Scale (MEDS) which measures the same constructs; correlations were poor to excellent for the SCL-90-R Depression subscale (r = 0.15-0.72), SCL-90-R Hostility subscale (r = 0.14-0.72), adequate for SCL-90-R Anxiety subscale (r = 0.48-0.59) and adequate to excellent for the SCL-90-R Interpersonal Sensitivity subscale (r = 0.44-0.71).

(Buckelew et al. 1988, Overholser et al. 1993)


No values were reported for the responsiveness of the SCL-90-R for the SCI population.

Floor/Ceiling Effect

No values were reported for the presence of floor/ceiling effects in the SCL-90-R for the SCI population.


Dr. Janice Eng, Christie Chan

Date Last Updated

3 August 2020

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.