Research Article
Issue Date: May/June 2020
Published Online: April 23, 2020
Updated: April 30, 2020
When It’s Impossible to Ignore: Development and Validation of the Sensory Habituation Questionnaire
Author Affiliations
  • Tamar Y. Podoly, MA Psy, BOT, is PhD Candidate, Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Israel, and Clinical Psychologist, Cognetica–The Israeli Center for Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Tel Aviv, Israel; tamarpw@yahoo.com
  • Ayelet Ben Sasson, ScD, OT, is Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Faculty of Social Welfare and Health Sciences, University of Haifa, Mount Carmel, Israel.
Article Information
Assessment Development and Testing / Mental Health / Research Articles
Research Article   |   April 23, 2020
When It’s Impossible to Ignore: Development and Validation of the Sensory Habituation Questionnaire
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, April 2020, Vol. 74, 7403205040. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.033878
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, April 2020, Vol. 74, 7403205040. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.033878
Abstract

Importance: Sensory overresponsivity (SOR) in adults is frequently overlooked and misdiagnosed. In some cases, the sensory symptoms are attributed to psychopathology or negative emotionality. Developing sound tools for examining various dimensions of sensory overresponsivity in adults, particularly sensitivity versus habituation, can more precisely guide scientific and intervention efforts.

Objective: To evaluate the psychometric properties, content validity, internal reliability, and construct validity of the new Sensory Habituation Questionnaire.

Design: A Classical Test Theory approach and a multitrait–multimethod matrix was used to evaluate the questionnaire’s psychometric properties.

Participants: A nonclinical sample of 160 adults ages 18–65 yr (mean = 31.85, standard deviation = 10.72); 56.87% were female.

Measures: Participants completed the Sensory Habituation Questionnaire, Sensory Perception Quotient, Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile, and the Brief Symptom Inventory.

Results: The Sensory Habituation Questionnaire had high internal reliability (α = .88) and was significantly correlated with other standardized SOR questionnaires (rs = .57–.61). In contrast to the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile overresponsivity score, the perceptually oriented measures (the Sensory Perception Quotient and the Sensory Habituation Questionnaire) were not associated with the Brief Symptom Inventory.

Conclusions and Relevance: The Sensory Habituation Questionnaire is a tool that can evaluate the ability to ignore daily sensations independent of psychopathology symptoms. It can guide practitioners and researchers in breaking down the dimensions of SOR.

What This Article Adds: This article introduces a questionnaire for evaluating the rate of sensory habituation in adults, a dimension of SOR that greatly affects daily functioning. The questionnaire is also advantageous in identifying sensory difficulties that differ from psychopathological symptoms. Habituation is a crucial factor to consider in intervention, because it calls for work on the capacity to adjust to bothersome sensations.