Original Article

International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health

, Volume 77, Issue 4, pp 249-254

First online:

A short chemical sensitivity scale for assessment of airway sensory hyperreactivity

  • Steven NordinAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Umeå UniversityDepartment of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Örebro University Hospital Email author 
  • , Eva MillqvistAffiliated withAsthma and Allergy Research Group, Sahlgrenska University Hospital
  • , Olle LöwhagenAffiliated withAsthma and Allergy Research Group, Sahlgrenska University Hospital
  • , Mats BendeAffiliated withDepartment of Otorhinolaryngology, Central Hospital

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A short version of the 21-item Chemical Sensitivity Scale (CSS), called the Chemical Sensitivity Scale for Sensory Hyperreactivity (CSS-SHR), was developed and evaluated for the quantifying of self-reported affective reactions to and behavioral disruptions in daily activities by odorous/pungent substances among patients with sensory hyperreactivity (SHR) for clinical and epidemiological studies.


Twenty-two patients with clinically diagnosed SHR and 124 control participants responded to the CSS and to additional questions about chemical sensitivity for the evaluation of the CSS-SHR.


Eleven of the 21 items of the CSS were selected, on statistical grounds, to constitute the CSS-SHR, which was found to generate approximately normal distributions, have good test–retest reliability (rxy=0.87), satisfying internal consistency (rα=0.76–0.84) and predictive and concurrent validity, and to be uni-dimensional. The metric properties of the CSS-SHR were, despite its few items, comparable with those of the CSS. A proposed diagnostic cut-off score for SHR demonstrated a high correct classification rate (92%) for the CSS-SHR.


The favorable metric properties of the CSS-SHR and its sensitivity/specificity suggests that it is useful for clinical diagnosis and epidemiological study of sensory hyperreactivity in combination with other diagnostic tools.


Multiple chemical sensitivity Odor intolerance Sensory irritation