Heinonen-Guzejev M, Koskenvuo M, Mussalo-Rauhamaa H, Vuorinen HS, Heikkilä K, Kaprio J.
Department of Public Health, Hjelt Institute, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 41, FI-00014, Helsinki, Finland.
Noise sensitivity is considered to be a self-perceived indicator of vulnerability to stressors in general and not noise alone. Multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS) has to some extent been accompanied by noise sensitivity, indicating a moderate correspondence between them. The aim of this study is to investigate if the Weinstein's Noise Sensitivity Scale and Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory's (QEESI) Chemical Intolerance Subscale can differentiate noise sensitivity and MCS as different entities, and if there are overlaps in the characteristics of noise sensitivity and MCS. In 2002, 327 individuals (166 men, 161 women; age range 45 - 66 years) from the Finnish Twin Cohort answered a questionnaire on noise-related and MCS items. Somatic, psychological, and lifestyle factors were obtained through earlier questionnaires for the same individuals. Both confirmatory and exploratory factor analyses (CFA and EFA) of the questionnaire items on the Weinstein's Noise Sensitivity Scale and QEESI's Chemical Intolerance Subscale indicated the presence of three factors - Noise Sensitivity, Chemical Sensitivity, and Ability to Concentrate factors - arising from the forming of two factors from the items of the Weinstein's scale. In the regression analyses, among all subjects, the Noise Sensitivity Factor was associated with neuroticism and smoking, and the Chemical Sensitivity Factor was associated with allergies and alcohol use. The study indicates that the Weinstein's Noise Sensitivity Scale and QEESI's Chemical Intolerance Subscale differentiate noise sensitivity and MCS as different entities.