Qualitative studies show that patients suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) or Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance (IEI) are aware of health-care professionals' non-awareness of the disease, making communication difficult. The objective of this paper is to describe the suffering in individuals with MCS and to assess the disease's impact on each measured dimension of suffering by means of a descriptive and correlational study. A sample of 125 subjects fill out a survey consisting of three scales for assessing the impact of MCS and three scales for assessing suffering. The results show that MCS affects mostly women. Assessment with the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) showed that participants have high levels of disease. The physical sphere of suffering is the most affected, followed by the psychological and the existential. There are high correlations between the QEESI and suffering scales. A multivariate regression equation explained 38.2% of the variance of suffering observed. We conclude that MCS generates physical, psychological, and existential suffering. Severity of symptoms is the variable that generates most suffering, followed by life impact. Psychological distress is marked by anxiety or worry and lack of gaiety; existential suffering reveals thoughts of failure and lack of inner harmony. A detailed description of suffering in MCS is a useful basis for therapy. Lack of awareness among health-care personnel implies inattention of these patients within the general health-care service. With this investigation we hope to raise awareness of this emerging disease in order to improve the communication between health-care workers and patients. © 2014 Colegio Oficial de Psicologos de Madrid Production by Elsevier Espana, S.L. All rights reserved.
- Idiopathic environmental intolerance
- Multiple chemical sensitivity