Ecological aspects of pain in sensory modulation disorder

T. Bar-Shalita, L. Deutsch, L. Honigman, I. Weissman-Fogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Sensory Modulation Disorder (SMD) interferes with the daily life participation of otherwise healthy individuals and is characterized by over-, under- or seeking responsiveness to naturally occurring sensory stimuli. Previous laboratory findings indicate pain hyper-sensitivity in SMD individuals suggesting CNS alteration in pain processing and modulation. However, laboratory studies lack ecological validity, and warrant clinical completion in order to elicit a sound understanding of the phenomenon studied. Thus, this study explored the association between sensory modulation and pain in a daily life context in a general population sample. Methods: Daily life context of pain and sensations were measured in 250 adults (aged 23-40 years; 49.6% males) using 4 self-report questionnaires: Pain Sensitivity Questionnaire (PSQ) and Pain Catastrophizing Scale (PCS) to evaluate the sensory and cognitive aspects of pain; the Sensory Responsiveness Questionnaire (SRQ) to appraise SMD; and the Short Form - 36 Health Survey, version 2 (SF36) to assess health related Quality of Life (QoL). Results: Thirty two individuals (12.8%) were found with over-responsiveness type of SMD, forming the SOR-SMD group. While no group differences (SOR-SMD vs. Non-SMD) were found, low-to-moderate total sample correlations were demonstrated between the SRQ-Aversive sub-scale and i) PSQ total (r = 0.31, p< 0.01) and sub-scales scores (r = 0.27-0.28, p< 0.01), as well as ii) PCS total and the sub-scales of Rumination and Helplessness scores (r = 0.15, p< 0.05). PSQ total and sub-scale scores were more highly correlated with SRQ-Aversive in the SOR-SMD group (r = 0.57-0.68, p = 0.03-<0.01) compared to Non-SMD group. The Physical Health - Total score (but not the Mental Health - Total) of the SF36 was lower for the SOR-SMD group (p = 0.03), mainly due to the difference in the Body pain sub-scale (p = 0.04). Conclusions: Results suggest that SOR-SMD is strongly associated with the sensory aspect of pain but weakly associated with the cognitive aspect. This indicates that SMD co-occurs with daily pain sensitivity, thus reducing QoL, but less with the cognitive-catastrophizing manifestation of pain perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-167
Number of pages11
JournalResearch in Developmental Disabilities
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Elsevier Ltd.


  • Pain catastrophizing
  • Pain sensitivity
  • Quality of life (QoL)
  • Sensory modulation disorder (SMD)
  • Sensory over-responsivity (SOR)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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