Psychological factors associated with self-reported sensitivity to mobile phones

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74 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Some people report symptoms associated with mobile phone use. A minority also report "electrosensitivity," experiencing symptoms following exposure to other electrical devices. Research suggests that electromagnetic fields do not trigger these symptoms. In this study, we examined the differences between these two "sensitive" groups and healthy controls. Methods: Fifty-two people who reported sensitivity to mobile phones, 19 people who reported sensitivity to mobile phones and "electrosensitivity," and 60 nonsensitive controls completed a questionnaire assessing the following: primary reason for using a mobile phone, psychological health, symptoms of depression, modem health worries (MHW), general health status, symptom severity, and the presence of other medically unexplained syndromes. Results: Perceived sensitivity was associated with an increased likelihood of using a mobile phone predominantly for work (3% of controls, 13% of those sensitive to mobile phones, and 21% of those reporting "electrosensitivity") and greater MHW concerning radiation [mean (S.D.) on a scale of 1-5: 2.0 (1.0), 2.7 (0.9), and 4.0 (0.8), respectively]. Participants who reported "electrosensitivity" also experienced greater depression, greater worries about tainted food and toxic interventions, worse general health on almost every measure, and a greater number of other medically unexplained syndromes compared to participants from the other two groups. No group differences were observed with regards to psychiatric caseness. Conclusions: The data illustrate that patients reporting "electrosensitivity" experience substantially worse health than either healthy individuals or people who report sensitivity to mobile phones but who do not adopt the label "electrosensitivity." Clinicians and researchers would be wise to pay greater attention to this subdivision. (c) 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1 - 9
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


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