Negative affect is associated with development and persistence of chemical intolerance: A prospective population-based study

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OBJECTIVE: Chemical intolerance (CI) is characterised by negative health effects attributed to a heightened responsiveness to common airborne chemicals. This longitudinal study explored the hypothesised role of negative affect in the development and persistence of CI in a general population.

METHODS: A general population sample aged 19 to 72years was examined in 2006-2008 and again in 2011-2012. Longitudinal data on CI were analysed with the purpose of examining baseline negative affect as a risk factor for having developed CI at 5-year follow-up and for reporting persistent CI. Participants were classified as reporting no signs of CI, having symptoms of CI and as being a likely CI case based on self-reported reactions to 11 common chemical exposures, symptoms related to chemical exposures and daily life adjustments attributed to reactions when exposed to chemicals.

RESULTS: A total of 69.4% of the participants who had reported CI at baseline also reported CI at follow-up. In participants with no baseline CI, 15.5% reported CI at follow-up and 18.1% reported symptoms related to chemicals but no daily life adjustments. Baseline negative affect was positively and statistically significantly associated with both development and persistence of CI.

CONCLUSIONS: Initial reports of CI were found to be persistent over time, and a considerable proportion of the participants with no CI at baseline reported having developed CI after 5years. The positive association between negative affect and CI at the 5-year follow-up supports negative affect as a possible risk factor for CI.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)509–514
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - May 2015

ID: 132677901