A short chemical sensitivity scale for assessment of airway sensory hyperreactivity

  • Steven Nordin
  • Eva Millqvist
  • Olle Löwhagen
  • Mats Bende
Original Article



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 



This study was supported by grants from the Vardal Foundation and the Swedish Research Council. We gratefully acknowledge Jonas Sandström and Ewa Ternesten for excellent assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven Nordin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Eva Millqvist
    • 3
  • Olle Löwhagen
    • 3
  • Mats Bende
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Department of Occupational and Environmental MedicineÖrebro University HospitalÖrebroSweden
  3. 3.Asthma and Allergy Research GroupSahlgrenska University HospitalGothenburgSweden
  4. 4.Department of OtorhinolaryngologyCentral HospitalSkövdeSweden

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