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: Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is a condition principally suffered by women. As with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome, Multiple Chemical Sensitivity is usually included among the so called "contested illnesses", defined as illnesses whose cause, diagnosis, prevalence and even existence are subject to controversy. This article seeks to explore how women with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity experience this contested illness, through their own descriptions of diagnostic processes, search for treatment and encounters with different health professionals. We aim to observe these experiences in detail and to identify aspects that could improve care for Multiple Chemical Sensitivity sufferers. : Qualitative design. We performed personal in-depth interviews, which were recorded and transcribed to conduct a qualitative content analysis supported by Atlas.ti-7. : 22 women diagnosed with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity in Spain. : Two main categories were identified in the interviews: (1) unavoidable barriers: patients' exposure to chemicals and the absence of treatment, and (2) Skepticism on the part of care providers and lack of recognition in the process of diagnosis. : Training and above all awareness raising strategies are needed to address health professionals' prejudices regarding the existence of contested illnesses such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. These prejudices hinder diagnosis and medical follow-up, and add negative emotions to the physical limitations already suffered by patients. IMPLICATIONS FOR REHABILITATION Multiple Chemical Sensitivity It is important to promote a compassionate and empathetic attitude among health providers, in order to avoid rejection and delegitimization of the experiences of women with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Multiple Chemical Sensitivity protocols should be developed and implemented to give skills to health professionals to assist patients with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. These protocols should include avoidance of exposure to chemicals present in healthcare facilities. Training programs for health providers should include not only knowledge, but awareness raising about the characteristics and severity of contested illnesses such as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Health providers should avoid stigmatizing patients by psychologizing their symptoms and be aware of the existence of stereotypes regarding women suffering from Multiple Chemical Sensitivity.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Disability and rehabilitation
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An acquired disorder characterized by recurrent symptoms, referable to multiple organ systems, occurring in response to demonstrable exposure to many chemically unrelated compounds at doses below those established in the general population to cause harmful effects. (Cullen MR. The worker with multiple chemical sensitivities: an overview. Occup Med 1987;2(4):655-61)
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One of the principal schools of medical philosophy in ancient Greece and Rome. It developed in Alexandria between 270 and 220 B.C., the only one to have any success in reviving the essentials of the Hippocratic concept. The Empiricists declared that the search for ultimate causes of phenomena was vain, but they were active in endeavoring to discover immediate causes. The "tripod of the Empirics" was their own chance observations (experience), learning obtained from contemporaries and predecessors (experience of others), and, in the case of new diseases, the formation of conclusions from other diseases which they resembled (analogy). Empiricism enjoyed sporadic continuing popularity in later centuries up to the nineteenth. (From Castiglioni, A History of Medicine, 2d ed, p186; Dr. James H. Cassedy, NLM History of Medicine Division)
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