Longitudinal associations between risk appraisal of base stations for mobile phones, radio or television and non-specific symptoms

Astrid L. Martens, Pauline Slottje, Tjabe Smid, Hans Kromhout, Roel C. H. Vermeulen, Danielle R. M. Timmermans

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4 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Studies found that higher risk appraisal of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields is associated with reporting more non-specific symptoms such as headache and back pain. There is limited data available on the longitudinal nature of such associations and what aspects of risk appraisal and characteristics of subjects are relevant. Objective: To examine cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between risk appraisal measures and non-specific symptoms, and assess the role of subject characteristics (sex, age, education, trait negative affect) in a general population cohort. Methods: This study was nested in the Dutch general population AMIGO cohort that was established in 2011/2012, when participants were 31–65 years old. We studied a sample of participants (n = 1720) who filled in two follow-up questionnaires in 2013 and 2014, including questions about perceived exposure, perceived risk, and health concerns as indicators of risk appraisal of base stations, and non-specific symptoms. Results: Perceived exposure, perceived risk, and health concerns, respectively, were associated with higher symptom scores in cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses. Only health concerns (not perceived exposure and perceived risk) temporally preceded high symptom scores and vice versa. Female sex, younger age, higher education, and higher trait negative affect were associated with higher risk appraisal of mobile phone base stations. Discussion: The findings in this study strengthen the evidence base for cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between higher risk appraisal and non-specific symptoms in the general population. However, the directionality of potential causal relations in non-sensitive general population samples should be examined further in future studies, providing information to the benefit of risk communication strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-89
JournalJournal of psychosomatic research
Publication statusPublished - 2018

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