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Pragmatic sensory screening in anorexia nervosa and associations with autistic traits

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Emma Kinnaird, Yasemin Dandil, Zhuo Li, Katherine Smith, Caroline Pimblett, Agbalaya Rafiu, Catherine Stewart, Kate Tchanturia

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2020

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Abstract

Background: Research suggests that people with anorexia nervosa (AN) experience subjective hypersensitivity to external sensations that may require consideration in treatment. These difficulties may be particularly pronounced in people with AN and high autistic traits. The purpose of this pilot study was to explore the use of a brief screening tool to assess sensory sensitivity in individuals receiving treatment for AN, and to assess if self-rated sensitivity in AN is related to autistic traits. Methods: 47 individuals receiving treatment for AN completed a brief sensory screening tool and self-rated their autistic traits. Individuals were also asked to give qualitative feedback on the screening tool. Results: People with AN and high autistic traits rated themselves as more hypersensitive compared to people with AN and low autistic traits. Feedback surrounding the use of the screener was positive. Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that the use of this screener may be beneficial in eating disorder settings to help adjust and calibrate treatment to personal needs, although further research and psychometric evaluation around the clinical use of the screener is needed. The finding that people with AN and high autistic traits may experience elevated hypersensitivity also warrants further exploration in future research.

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