Freiburg Complaint Checklist. Primary data from the standardization sample 1993.

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Fahrenberg, Jochen


Dataset Information

Title Freiburg Complaint Checklist. Primary data from the standardization sample 1993.
Original Title Freiburger Beschwerdenliste FBL. Primärdaten der Normierungsstichprobe 1993.
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.
Language of variable documentation German/English
Responsible for Data Collection Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach (IfD)
Data Collection Completion Date 1993
Dataset Publication 2010
Dataset ID fgjn93fr19
Study Description 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.
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.
Keyphrase test construction & test standardization of "Freiburger Beschwerdenliste (FBL)", complaint checklist, representative sample of 2070 Germans aged 16 years and older, primary data

Funding -
Rating Presents the sample's main socio-economic status and other characteristics together with the ratio schedule for the stratified characteristics as well as the expected values of other, nonstratified attributes. The concurrence between nominal and actual values of the characteristics is very satisfying. In summary, it can be said that this sample portrays a representative picture of those survey respondents the ratio schdule encompasses and that this is a representative selection of the population in West Germany and West Berlin aged 16 years and older. Between the questionnaire and the statistics provided by the Allensbach Institute for Public Opinion Research (Institut für Demoskopie Allensbach, IfD), discrepancies concerning gender in 48 of the 2,041 cases (2.4%) were found. Answers from the questionnaire were used for the statistical analysis and norms. The distribution of characteristics of the survey can be compared with similar surveys in order to evaluate both the reliability and any potential socio-demographic trends: (1) The 1982 survey carried out for the revision of the Freiburg Personality Inventory (FPI, 2,030 subjects), which encompasses only the Former West German states (PsychData ID: fgjn82fr19), (2) the 2nd normalization of the FPI-R 1999 (3,740 subjects) for all current German states (PsychData ID: fgjn99fr19), and (3) the 1994 survey sample, conducted by the Independent Service for Survey Research and Methodology Berlin (USUMA) for the normalization of the Life Satisfaction Questionnaire (Fahrenberg Myrtek, Schumacher & Brähler, 2000) with 2,870 subjects from both the old and new German States (PsychData ID: fgjn94fr12). The test manual for the FPI-R contains tables that compare the samples. The sometimes varying categorizations of the different characteristics should be noted.
File Access Criteria

Data files and additional material that belong to access category 1indication of an academic email account and the intended use


PSYNDEX Classification and Controlled Terms

Classification Health Psychology Testing
Personality Traits & Processes
Controlled Terms Classical Test Theory
Rating Scales
Symptom Checklists
Medical Psychology
Clinical Psychology
Personality Traits
Patient History
Physical Comfort
Somatoform Disorders
Body Image
Data Collection


Research Method Description

Research Method Description Test Data
Classification of Data Collection Normalized Test Procedure
Research Instrument 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
Time Points single measurement
Survey Time Period -
Characteristics -
Population Population of the Federal Republic of Germany (old and new states) aged 16 years or older
Experimental Pool Individuals
Sample Quota Sample
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/Drop Out 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.
Gender Distribution 53,2% female subjects (n=1101)
46,8% male subjects (n=969)
Age Distribution 16 years or older
Special Groups -
Country Germany
Region -
City -
Variables FBL Items
occupational stress
satisfaction (family, finances, career)
general health
doctor visits
hospital stays/rehabilitation stays
chronic illness
sociodemographic characteristics of the FBL (gender, marital status, household)
sociodemographic information of the IfD (gender, age group, education level,
occupation, income, primary household earner, the number of children grouped by age, marital status, cohabitation, religious denomination, church attendance, state, city population, type of city)
interviewer's classification of the respondents (IfD)


Data Status

Data Status Complete Data Set
Original Records Questionnaire filled out by either the subject or the experimenter containing closed and/or open answers
Transformation Data from the subjects were coded and then immediately transferred into a machine-readable form


Description of the Provided Data

Description Primary data set
File Name fgjn93fr19_pd.txt
Data Content 2,070 subjects, 121 variables
Data Points 2,070*121=250470 data points
Variables FBL-items (80), questions concerning occupational stress and health status (15), sociodemographic features of the FBL (3), sociodemographic information of the IfD (20), interviewer's classification of respondents (2), subject ID (1)
MD5 Hash cc38f0dff0639885e5b2541af57768e7
File Access Criteria access category 1indication of an academic email account and the intended use
Description Primary data set of derived variables
File Name fgjn93fr19_ad.txt
Data Content 2,070 subjects, 142 variables
Data Points 2,070*142=293940 data points
Variables FBL-items (80), questions concerning occupational stress and health status (15), sociodemographic features of the FBL (3), sociodemographic information of the IfD (20), interviewer's classification of respondents (2), test scores of the FBL-G scale (11), test scores of the FBL-R scales (10), subject ID (1)
MD5 Hash a28e3623d65b5259d2eb40e476bf52d6
File Access Criteria access category 1indication of an academic email account and the intended use


Description of Additional Materials

Description File Name
German codebook of primary dataset fgjn93fr19_pd.txt fgjn93fr19_kb.txt
German codebook of primary dataset with derived variables fgjn93fr19_ad.txt fgjn93fr19_aa.txt


Publications Directly Related to the Dataset

Publications Directly Related to the Dataset
Fahrenberg, J. (1966). Eine statistische Analyse funktioneller Beschwerden. Zeitschrift für Psychosomatische Medizin, 12, 78-85.
Fahrenberg, J. (1975). Die Freiburger Beschwerdenliste FBL. Zeitschrift für Klinische Psychologie, 4, 79-100
Fahrenberg, J. (1994). Die Freiburger Beschwerdenliste (FBL). Form FBL-G und revidierte Form FBL-R. Handanweisung. Göttingen: Hogrefe.Datensatz 9000962
Fahrenberg, J. (1995). Somatic complaints in the German population. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 39, 809-817.Datensatz 0098537
Hampel, R. & Fahrenberg, J. (1982). Die Freiburger Beschwerdenliste FBL. Gruppenvergleiche und andere Studien zur Validität (Forschungsbericht Nr. 7). Freiburg i. Br.: Universität, Psychologisches Institut. Und online in Internet: urn:nbn:de:bsz:291-psydok-26198 [und ] (Stand: 28.06.2010)Datensatz 7001072


Further Reading

Further Reading
Baltissen, R (1996). Die Freiburger-Beschwerden-Liste (FBL). Zeitschrift für Differentielle und Diagnostische Psychologie, 17, 62-63.
Brähler, E. (Hrsg.). (1986). Körpererleben. Ein subjektiver Ausdruck von Leib und Seele. Beiträge zur psychosomatischen Medizin. Berlin: Springer.Datensatz 0016221
Fahrenberg, J. & Myrtek, M. (2005). Psychophysiologie in Labor, Klinik und Alltag. 40 Jahre Projektarbeit der Freiburger Forschungsgruppe Psychophysiologie – Kommentare und Neue Perspektiven. Frankfurt a.M.: Lang.Datensatz 0181103
Fahrenberg, J., Hampel, R. & Selg, H. (2010). Das Freiburger Persönlichkeitsinventar FPI. (erweiterte 8. Auflage). Göttingen, Hogrefe.
Fahrenberg, J., Myrtek, M., Schumacher, J. & Brähler, E. (2000). Fragebogen zur Lebenszufriedenheit (FLZ). Handanweisung. Göttingen: Hogrefe.Datensatz 9001035
Hiller, W. (1997). Die Freiburger Beschwerdenliste (FBL), Form FBL-G und revidierte Form FBL-R. Zeitschrift für Klinische Psychologie, 26, 309-311.
Myrtek, M. (1998). Gesunde Kranke - kranke Gesunde. Psychophysiologie des Krankheitsverhaltens. Bern: Huber.Datensatz 0117920
Pennebaker, J. W. (1982). The psychology of physical symptoms. New York: Springer.
Schwarz, N. & Scheuring, B. (1992). Selbstberichtete Verhaltens- und Symptomhäufigkeiten: Was Befragte aus Antwortvorgaben des Fragebogens lernen. Zeitschrift für Klinische Psychologie, 21, 197-208. Datensatz 0063406


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