Purpose of review: There have been a number of recent studies examining behavioural and social factors in the potential cause of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, or Idiopathic Environmental Intolerance. The current review will draw together recent research and suggest directions for future investigation.
Recent findings: Recent studies have implicated a number of different perspectives which may be helpful in understanding the cause of chemical sensitivities. A multifactorial model incorporating behavioural, physiological and sociological approaches may be useful. Cultural and historical factors, alongside individual expectations and beliefs, as well as maladaptive learning and conditioning processes, may be important in the specific cause of chemical sensitivities. Iatrogenesis, through the promise of unproven 'therapies', may perpetuate reported symptoms further. Although there are many recent experiments implicating potential behavioural or psychological causes for Multiple Chemical Sensitivities, there remains a paucity of treatment trials for this condition.
Summary: Good-quality treatment trials examining psychological/behavioural approaches in the management of Multiple Chemical Sensitivities are urgently needed.