, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 141-150

Attention to bodily sensations and symptom perception in individuals with idiopathic environmental intolerance

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Abstract

Introduction

Idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI) is characterized by non-specific symptoms attributed to exposure to environmental odours or chemicals at levels below those known to induce adverse health effects. A clarification of whether psychological processes involved in sensory perceptions are associated with IEI would add to our understanding of this complex disorder.

Purpose

To examine if measures of somato-sensory amplification, autonomic perception and absorption are associated with IEI.

Methods

The study included individuals with self-reported or physician-diagnosed IEI. Participants (n = 732) completed questionnaires that included items on descriptive variables of IEI, the Somato-Sensory Amplification Scale (SSAS), the Autonomic Perception Questionnaire (APQ), the Tellegen Absorption Scale (TAS) and a Negative Affectivity Scale (NAS).

Results

Multiple, hierarchical linear regression analyses revealed significant positive associations between SSAS, APQ, and IEI, while small and inverse associations were seen between TAS and IEI.

Conclusions

The association with SSAS and APQ suggests that perceptual personality characteristics are important in understanding this disorder.