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      The relationships between interoception and alexithymic trait. The Self-Awareness Questionnaire in healthy subjects

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          Abstract

          Interoception is the basic process enabling evaluation of one's own bodily states. Several previous studies suggested that altered interoception might be related to disorders in the ability to perceive and express emotions, i.e., alexithymia, and to defects in perceiving and describing one's own health status, i.e., hypochondriasis. The main aim of the present study was to investigate the relationships between alexithymic trait and interoceptive abilities evaluated by the “Self-Awareness Questionnaire” (SAQ), a novel self-report tool for assessing interoceptive awareness. Two hundred and fifty healthy subjects completed the SAQ, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 items (TAS-20), and a questionnaire to assess hypochondriasis, the Illness Attitude Scale (IAS). The SAQ showed a two-factor structure, with good internal consistency (Cronbach's alpha = 0.88). We observed significant direct correlations between SAQ, TAS-20 and two of its subscales, and the IAS. Regression analysis confirmed that the difficulty in identifying and expressing emotions is significantly related with awareness for one's own interoceptive feelings and with a tendency to misinterpret and amplify bodily sensations. From a clinical point of view, the assessment of interoceptive awareness by the SAQ could be pivotal in evaluating several psychopathological conditions, such as the somatoform disorders.

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          Most cited references 38

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          Coefficient alpha and the internal structure of tests

           Lee Cronbach (1951)
          Psychometrika, 16(3), 297-334
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            Interoception: the sense of the physiological condition of the body.

            Converging evidence indicates that primates have a distinct cortical image of homeostatic afferent activity that reflects all aspects of the physiological condition of all tissues of the body. This interoceptive system, associated with autonomic motor control, is distinct from the exteroceptive system (cutaneous mechanoreception and proprioception) that guides somatic motor activity. The primary interoceptive representation in the dorsal posterior insula engenders distinct highly resolved feelings from the body that include pain, temperature, itch, sensual touch, muscular and visceral sensations, vasomotor activity, hunger, thirst, and 'air hunger'. In humans, a meta-representation of the primary interoceptive activity is engendered in the right anterior insula, which seems to provide the basis for the subjective image of the material self as a feeling (sentient) entity, that is, emotional awareness.
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              Individual-patient monitoring in clinical practice: are available health status surveys adequate?

              Interest has increased in recent years in incorporating health status measures into clinical practice for use at the individual-patient level. We propose six measurement standards for individual-patient applications: (1) practical features, (2) breadth of health measured, (3) depth of health measured, (4) precision for cross-sectional assessment, (5) precision for longitudinal monitoring and (6) validity. We evaluate five health status surveys (Functional Status Questionnaire, Dartmouth COOP Poster Charts, Nottingham Health Profile, Duke Health Profile, and SF-36 Health Survey) that have been proposed for use in clinical practice. We conducted an analytical literature review to evaluate the six measurement standards for individual-patient applications across the five surveys. The most problematic feature of the five surveys was their lack of precision for individual-patient applications. Across all scales, reliability standards for individual assessment and monitoring were not satisfied, and the 95% CIs were very wide. There was little evidence of the validity of the five surveys for screening, diagnosing, or monitoring individual patients. The health status surveys examined in this paper may not be suitable for monitoring the health and treatment status of individual patients. Clinical usefulness of existing measures might be demonstrated as clinical experience is broadened. At this time, however, it seems that new instruments, or adaptation of existing measures and scaling methods, are needed for individual-patient assessment and monitoring.
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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                Front Psychol
                Front Psychol
                Front. Psychol.
                Frontiers in Psychology
                Frontiers Media S.A.
                1664-1078
                07 August 2015
                2015
                : 6
                Affiliations
                1Laboratory of Neuropsychology, Department of Psychology, Second University of Naples Caserta, Italy
                2Hermitage Capodimonte Napoli, Italy
                Author notes

                Edited by: Olga Pollatos, University of Ulm, Germany

                Reviewed by: Glenn Carruthers, Macquarie University, Australia; Neil Gerald Muggleton, National Central University, Taiwan

                *Correspondence: Mariachiara Longarzo and Dario Grossi, Laboratory of Neuropsychology, Department of Psychology, Second University of Naples, Viale Ellittico 31, 81100 Caserta, Italy mariachiara.longarzo@ 123456unina2.it ; dario.grossi@ 123456unina2.it

                This article was submitted to Consciousness Research, a section of the journal Frontiers in Psychology

                Article
                10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01149
                4528101
                Copyright © 2015 Longarzo, D'Olimpio, Chiavazzo, Santangelo, Trojano and Grossi.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

                Page count
                Figures: 0, Tables: 3, Equations: 0, References: 52, Pages: 8, Words: 6265
                Categories
                Psychology
                Original Research

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