Repressive coping and alexithymia in idiopathic environmental intolerance
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- Skovbjerg, S., Zachariae, R., Rasmussen, A. et al. Environ Health Prev Med (2010) 15: 299. doi:10.1007/s12199-010-0143-4
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To examine if the non-expression of negative emotions (i.e., repressive coping) and differences in the ability to process and regulate emotions (i.e., alexithymia) is associated with idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI).
The study included participants who had previously participated in a general population-based study and reported symptoms of environmental intolerance (n = 787) and patients with IEI (n = 237). The participants completed questionnaires assessing IEI, namely, a measure of repressive coping combining scores on the Marlowe–Crowne Social Desirability Scale (MCSDS) and the Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale (TMAS), the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), and a negative affectivity scale (NAS). Multiple, hierarchical linear regression analyses were conducted using IEI variables as the dependent variables.
The TMAS and MCSDS scores were independently associated with the IEI variables, but there was no evidence of a role of the repressive coping construct. While the total alexithymia score was unrelated to IEI, the TAS-20 subscale of difficulties identifying feelings (DIF) was independently associated with symptoms attributed to IEI. Negative affectivity was a strong independent predictor of the IEI variables and a mediator of the association between DIF and IEI.
Our results provide no evidence for a role of repressive coping in IEI, and our hypothesis of an association with alexithymia was only partly supported. In contrast, strong associations between IEI and negative emotional reactions, defensiveness and difficulties identifying feelings were found, suggesting a need for exploring the influence of these emotional reactions in IEI.
KeywordsAlexithymia Chemical sensitivity Functional somatic syndromes Negative affectivity Repressive coping Stress
Chemical Hypersensitivity Scale
CNS Symptom Scale
Consequences for Social Activities Scale
The Chemical Sensitivity Scale for Sensory Hyper-reactivity
Difficulties identifying feelings
Difficulties describing feelings
Externally oriented thinking
Idiopathic environmental intolerance
Marlowe–Crowne Social Desirability Scale
Mucosal Symptom Scale
Negative Affectivity Scale
The Toronto Alexithymia Scale
The Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale