Carnegie Mellon University

Perceived Vulnerability to Illness


Perceived Vulnerability to Illness Scale


BCS (stress question only), PCS1


To assess the individual’s perceptions of his or her vulnerability to illness

Type of Measure

Created for study


Using a 6-point response scale, respondents rate the extent to which they agree with three self-referent statements regarding their likelihood of becoming sick when stressed; their tendency to feel mentally and physically exhausted at the end of the day; and their likelihood of becoming sick relative to other persons.  In PCS1, the scale was administered on two occasions, separated by one week, during the pre-quarantine baseline period (see PCS1 Trial Outline).  In BCS, the single vulnerability to illness item was administered during the pre-challenge quarantine period (see BCS Trial Outline)1.


6-point response scale with no neutral option (range: 1 = I disagree very much to 6 = I agree very much).  Higher values indicate greater perceived vulnerability to illness.

Number of Items

BCS: 1
PCS1: 3


For PCS1, a total perceived vulnerability score can be derived by taking the sum across the three items.

1 Because this item was added to the BCS questionnaire battery after data collection had begun, perceived vulnerability to illness data are available for only 261 of the 399 BCS participants.