Rapid assessment of olfactory sensitivity using the “Sniffin’ Sticks”

Maria Poessel, Jessica Freiherr, Annette Horstmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

Abstract

Introduction Assessment of olfactory performance is of high clinical interest in the contexts of smell loss as well as neurological diseases, and recently gained attention in obesity research. Available olfactory tests, especially for assessing olfactory sensitivity, are time-consuming and require high cognitive capacity. Therefore, we aimed to establish a short procedure for reliably testing olfactory sensitivity using a subtest of the "Sniffin' Sticks" battery. Evaluation criteria are test duration, validity, and test-retest reliability. Methods In a preliminary study using a within-subject repeated-measures design, we measured olfactory sensitivity for n-butanol in 20 young and healthy participants. We compared sensitivity obtained with three different measures during two sessions in a pseudo-randomized order: a standard single-staircase three-alternative forced-choice procedure with seven reversals (SSP_7); an abbreviated version with five reversals (SSP_5); and an ascending presentation of 16 dilution steps from lowest to highest odor concentration (brief ascending procedure, BAP). Results Compared to the SSP_7, the BAP was 51%, and the SSP_5 26% shorter in duration. Both the BAP and SSP_5 scores were highly correlated with the SSP_7. The test-retest reliability in all three tests was similar to that typically reported in olfactory research. Conclusion The abbreviated tests are valid measures of olfactory sensitivity. Especially, the BAP is as reliable as the standard method, but remarkably faster and easier to perform.

Original languageEnglish
JournalChemosensory perception.
Volume13
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)37-44
Number of pages8
ISSN1936-5802
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • Ascending procedure
  • DISCRIMINATION
  • DYSFUNCTION
  • ODOR IDENTIFICATION
  • Olfaction
  • PERFORMANCE
  • PHASE
  • PHENYL ETHYL-ALCOHOL
  • RELIABILITY
  • SMOKING
  • Single staircase procedure
  • Smell
  • TESTS
  • THRESHOLDS
  • Threshold
  • 515 Psychology

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