Sensory processing patterns in healthy adults and their association with demographic factors

Tawanda Machingura*, Gurjeet Kaur, Sharon M Mickan, Chris Lloyd, David Shum, Evelyne Rathbone, Heather Green

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issueResearchpeer-review

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Sensory processing is a concept that summates the human being's ability to receive and organize and use sensory information in everyday occupations. Sensory processing patterns (SPP) have been studied in children however SPP in adults are less understood.

This study sought to explore sensory processing in healthy adults. It focussed on associations between sensory processing patterns, and four demographic factors of age, sex, education, and ethnicity in healthy adults.

A total of 71 participants aged 18 years and over were recruited from the community, using convenience sampling. Participants were then categorised into three age groups: 18–34, 35–64, and 65 + . Each participant completed the Adolescent/ Adult Sensory Profile (AASP). Further demographic information on sex, education, and ethnicity was also collected. The Depression Anxiety Stress Scales -short version (DASS-21) was also administered. Results were then analysed using descriptive statistics, and MANCOVA.

Results indicated that there was a statistically significant multivariate effect for age group (p = 0.009) at the Bonferroni adjusted alpha level of 0.0125, partial = 0.145. Stress, anxiety and depression scores as measured by the DASS were also found to play a significant role on the dependent variables (P < 0.001). Education category showed significance in the seeking domain (P = 0.008, =0.10) after controlling for DASS. There was no significant correlation between sensory processing patterns (SPP) and gender or ethnicity in the general population. Results also indicated that mean scores of participants in this study were “similar to most people’ as standardised in the AASP.

We concluded that SPP are associated with age and education in the general population. We suggest taking into consideration these sensory differences particularly when designing interventions that enhance occupational performance and participation for individuals, groups or communities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127 in PDF
JournalAustralian Occupational Therapy Journal
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jul 2019
EventOccupational Therapy Australia 28th National Conference 'Together Towards Tomorrow', 10-12 July 2019 - International Convention Centre, Sydney, Australia
Duration: 10 Jul 201912 Jul 2019


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