Sensory phenomena: clinical correlates and impact on quality of life in adult patients with Tourette syndrome

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  • Department of Neuropsychiatry, BSMHFT and University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK.


Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurodevelopmental condition characterised by multiple tics, with frequent behavioural co-morbidity. Sensory phenomena (SP) are unpleasant sensations which provide involuntary urges to tic in patients with TS. While SP have a central role in tic expression, little is known about their clinical correlates or association with health-related quality of life (HR-QOL) in TS. We conducted a cross-sectional study on 72 adult outpatients with TS, recruited at a specialist clinic. All participants completed a comprehensive battery of psychometric measures, including the Premonitory Urges for Tics Scale (PUTS) to assess SP and a disease-specific quality of life scale (GTS-QOL) to assess HR-QOL. SP were very common (97.2% of patients), with a median PUTS total score of 28/40. Bivariate analyses showed that PUTS scores were most significantly correlated with self-report measures of vocal tic severity and compulsivity. PUTS scores were also significantly correlated with GTS-QOL scores, most notably with the psychological subscale. SP are frequently reported by adults with TS, are associated with perceived tic severity and compulsivity, and can significantly affect psychological well-being. Standardised measurement of SP should be incorporated into routine assessment of patients with TS to optimise their clinical management.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)705-10
Number of pages6
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2013


  • Adolescent, Adult, Behavioral Symptoms/epidemiology, Comorbidity, Compulsive Behavior/complications, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Psychometrics, Quality of Life/psychology, Statistics, Nonparametric, Tic Disorders/complications, Tourette Syndrome/epidemiology, Visual Analog Scale, Young Adult