Quantifying Environmental Intolerance : Digital Reports From Daily Life
Abstract: Environmental intolerance (EI) is a condition characterized by low tolerance to environmental stimuli at levels that would not affect most people. EI is an ill-defined condition from which sufferers experience highly individual multisystem symptoms following exposure from specific environmental sources. Subgroups of EI are typically distinguished by the source that cause negative effects. In this study, intolerance attributed to noise and odors was investigated. Most research on EI is conducted using cross sectional approaches and among the instruments used to quantify EI is the Noise Sensitivity Scale (NSS-11) and the Chemical Sensitivity Scale for Sensory Hyperreactivity (CSS-SHR). To fully understand EI, more longitudinal research is needed. The aim of this study was to establish how a recently developed smartphone app, intended for longitudinal research, compares to the NSS-11 and CSS-SHR with regards to its ability to detect EI. 12 participants (mean age 29 years, SD=10.7 years) filled out the NSS-11/CSS-SHR following a period of two weeks using the app. It was hypothesized that individuals scoring high/low on the NSS-11/CSS-SHR would also express high/low levels of EI as measured by reports in the app on the variables discomfort rating, number of unique symptoms reported and number of reports. Although analyses revealed effects in the direction of the hypothesis for all variables, Independent samples t-test analyses yielded no significant associations. Either there are in fact no differences, but speculatively, the lack of significant associations can also be attributed any the following: (1) the groups were to similar (2) the sample was too small (3) the participants used avoidance as coping strategies.
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