Research Article
Issue Date: July/August 2020
Published Online: June 25, 2020
Updated: June 25, 2020
Retrospective Analysis of Studies Examining Sensory Processing Preferences in People With a Psychiatric Condition
Author Affiliations
  • Catana Brown, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA, is Professor, Department of Occupational Therapy, Midwestern University, Glendale, AZ; cbrown2@midwestern.edu
  • Rebecca Karim, MA, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, Hand Therapy Advantage, Spokane, WA.
  • Megan Steuter, MA, OTR/L, is Occupational Therapist, HonorHealth, Scottsdale, AZ.
Article Information
Mental Health / Sensory Integration and Processing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   June 25, 2020
Retrospective Analysis of Studies Examining Sensory Processing Preferences in People With a Psychiatric Condition
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, June 2020, Vol. 74, 7404205130. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.038463
American Journal of Occupational Therapy, June 2020, Vol. 74, 7404205130. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2020.038463
Abstract

Importance: When occupational therapists understand sensory processing preferences, they can create environments that promote participation.

Objective: To determine the sensory processing preferences of people with a psychiatric condition as measured by the Adolescent/Adult Sensory Profile (A/ASP).

Data Sources: PubMed, PsycINFO, ERIC, CINAHL, and OTseeker were searched from 2002 through January 2018.

Study Selection and Data Collection: Studies that included people with psychiatric conditions and measured sensory processing preferences using the A/ASP were included. Studies had to report means and standard deviations for all four A/ASP subscales. The retrospective analysis involved extracting sensory processing quadrant scores from each study and comparing these scores with the A/ASP norms by means of independent-samples t tests.

Findings: Five studies revealed a general pattern of greater sensory sensitivity, sensation avoiding, and low registration and less sensation seeking among people with a psychiatric condition. For each condition (schizophrenia, high risk for psychosis, bipolar disorder, major depressive disorder, posttraumatic stress, and obsessive–compulsive disorder), scores in at least two of the four sensory processing quadrants were significantly different from the normative scores, with some variability in sensory processing preferences across the psychiatric conditions.

Conclusions and Relevance: The sensory processing preferences of people with a psychiatric condition differ from those of the normative sample. This research can lead to condition-specific sensory-based interventions targeting a person’s specific sensory needs in the context of occupational performance.

What This Article Adds: This article provides new information that compares and contrasts the sensory processing preferences of people with different types of psychiatric conditions. This information can be useful in treatment planning.