Study type: Epidemiological study (observational study)

Symptoms and the use of wireless communication devices: a prospective cohort study in Swiss adolescents epidem.

Published in: Environ Res 2017; 154: 275-283

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A prospective cohort study was conducted in Switzerland to investigate whether self-reported symptoms of adolescents are associated with radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phones and other wireless devices or by the wireless device use itself due to non-radiation related factors in that context.

Further details

Headache was assessed using the Headache Impact Test (HIT-6). Tiredness, lack of energy, lack of concentration and exhaustibility were assessed using a four-point Likert scale. Physical well-being was assessed using five questions of the Kidscreen-52 questionnaire.
Two main analyses were performed: 1) a cross-sectional analysis of a combined dataset consisting of baseline and follow-up data and b) a cohort analysis, including all participants without the target symptom at baseline, to investigate whether occurrence of the symptom was related to cumulative wireless device use or cumulative RF-EMF dose.
Further results of the HERMES (Health Effects Related to Mobile phonE use in adolescentS) study are published on behavioral problems and concentration capacity by Roser et al. (2016), on memory performance by Schoeni et al. (2015), on subjective symptoms in relation to fixed site transmitters by Schoeni et al. (2016) and on subjective symptoms associated with mobile phone use Schoeni et al. (2016).

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:




Study size

Type Value
Total 439
Participation rate 37 %
Statistical analysis method: (adjustment: )

Results (acc. to author)

In the cross-sectional and cohort analyses, various symptoms tended to be mostly associated with usage measures that are only marginally related to exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields such as the number of text messages sent per day (e.g. tiredness: OR 1.81, CI 1.20-2.74 for cross-sectional analyses and OR 1.87, CI 1.04-3.38 for cohort analyses). Outcomes were generally less strongly or not associated with mobile phone call duration and RF-EMF dose measures.
The authors concluded that stronger associations between symptoms of ill health in Swiss adolescents and wireless communication device use than for radiofrequency electromagnetic fields dose measures were observed. Such a result pattern does not support a causal association between exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and health symptoms of adolescents but rather suggests that other aspects of extensive media use are related to symptoms.

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