Study type: Epidemiological study (observational study)

Mobile phone use, behavioural problems and concentration capacity in adolescents: A prospective study. epidem.

Published in: Int J Hyg Environ Health 2016; 219 (8): 759-769

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A prospective cohort study was conducted in Switzerland to investigate whether behavioural problems and concentration capacity in adolescents are affected by exposure to mobile phones and other wireless communication devices.

Further details

Behavioral problems of adolescents were assessed by the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire filled in by the adolescents and their parents. The concentration capacity of the adolescents was assessed by the standardized, computerized cognitive test battery FAKT-II (Frankfurter Adaptiver Konzentrationsleistungs-Test-II).
Three main analyses were performed: 1) A cross-sectional analysis using combined data set of baseline and follow-up data for both, exposure and outcome variables. 2) A longitudinal analysis to investigate whether cumulative exposure was followed by a change in outcome. 3) A cross-sectional analysis of the follow-up outcomes in the subsample with personal measurements.
Further results of the HERMES (Health Effects Related to Mobile phonE use in adolescentS) study are published on well-being in relation to fixed site transmitters by Schoeni et al. (2016), on memory performance by Schoeni et al. (2015) and on subjective symptoms associated with mobile phone use by Schoeni et al. (2016) .

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:




Study size

Type Value
Participants 439
Participation rate 37 %

follow-up: 425 participants

Statistical analysis method: ( adjustment: )

Conclusion (acc. to author)

In the cross-sectional analyses, an association between behavioral problems of adolescents and the use of several self-reported wireless communication devices or exposure measures was observed, but not with operator-recorded mobile phone use. Concentration capacity in adolscents was associated with several self-reported and operator-recorded exposure measures. The longitudinal analyses point towards absence of associations.
The authors conclude that the lack of consistent exposure-response patterns in the longitudinal analyses suggests that behavioral problems and concentration capacity in adolescents are not affected by the use of wireless communication devices or exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. Information bias and reverse causality are likely explanations for the observed cross-sectional findings.

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