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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 21  |  Issue : 101  |  Page : 173--182

Deductive development and validation of a questionnaire to assess sensitivity to very low and very high frequency sounds: SISUS-Q (Sensitivity to Infra-Sound and Ultra-Sound Questionnaire)

1 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Neuronal Plasticity Working Group, Hamburg, Germany
2 Department of Medical Physics and Acoustics, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Oldenburg, Germany
3 Institute of Sound and Vibration Research, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom
4 Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt Braunschweig, Bundesallee, Braunschweig, Germany
5 Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Neuronal Plasticity Working Group, Hamburg; Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience, Berlin, Germany
6 Department of Interdisciplinary Metrology, Electrotechnical Faculty, Ljubljana University, Tržaška, Ljubljana, Slovenia

Correspondence Address:
Leonie Ascone
Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Neuronal Plasticity Working Group, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Martinistr. 52, 20246, Hamburg
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/nah.NAH_46_19

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Objective: Auditory research and complaints about environmental noise indicate that there exists a significant, small subgroup within the population which is sensitive towards infra- and low-frequency or ultra- and high-frequency sounds (ILF/UHF). This paper reports on the development, factorization and validation of measures of sensitivity towards frequencies outside the common hearing range. Design: A multinational, cross-sectional survey study was run. Principal component analyses and exploratory factor analyses were conducted in a sample of 267 Europeans (from the UK, Slovenia, and Germany). Results: The factor analyses suggested that ILF versus UHF sensitivity constitute different factors, each characterized by sensory perception, stress-responsivity, and behavioral avoidance. A third factor comprising beliefs of dangerousness of ILF and UHF emerged. The factors explained 72% of the variance. The factor-solution was replicated separately for the English (n = 98) and German (n = 169) versions of the questionnaire (Slovenians and UK residents filled out the English version). Acceptable to excellent reliability was found. ILF and UHF sensitivity were moderately related to noise sensitivity in the normal hearing range, suggesting the new measures are not redundant. Correlations with psychiatric and somatic symptoms were small to moderate. ILF sensitivity correlated with neuroticism (small effect) and daytime sleepiness (moderate effect). ILF and UHF sensitivity were related to agreeableness (small effects). Overall, the novel ILF and UHF sensitivity scales seems to provide a solid tool for conducting further research on the role of sensitivity concerning adverse effects of ILF and UHF sound (e.g. health outcomes, annoyance ratings). The questionnaire consortium recommends using the new scales in combination with established measures of normal hearing range sensitivity.


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