Multisensory Hypersensitivity in Women With Fibromyalgia: Implications for Well Being and Intervention


      Wilbarger JL, Cook DB. Multisensory hypersensitivity in women with fibromyalgia: implications for well being and intervention.


      To document sensory sensitivities to nonnoxious sensory stimuli in daily life for participants with fibromyalgia (FM).


      Descriptive study of a convenience sample using a self-report survey of sensory processing.


      Participants were recruited from the general community. The procedure took place in a research room at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


      Women with FM (n=27) were compared with women with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) (n=28) and healthy pain-free women (controls) (n=28) (N=83).


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measure

      A self-report measure of sensory sensitivity to stimuli encountered in daily life. Items ask participants if they are sensitive to sensations that do not seem to bother other people or avoid common activities or environments because of sensory stimuli.


      The FM group reported significantly increased sensory sensitivities to both somatic (tactile) and nonsomatic (eg, auditory and olfactory) sensory stimuli compared with the RA and control groups. The RA and control groups did not differ in reported hypersensitivities.


      Women with fibromyalgia reported increased sensitivities to stimuli in the environment and could experience more stress related to sensory conditions in daily life.

      Key Words

      List of Abbreviations:

      AASP (Adult and Adolescent Sensory Profile), ANOVA (analysis of variance), ASQ (Adult Sensory Questionnaire), FM (fibromyalgia), RA (rheumatoid arthritis), SD (sensory defensiveness)
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