NON-SPECIFIC SYMPTOMS ATTRIBUTED TO ENVIRONMENTAL ELECTROMAGNETIC LOAD AND THE PSYCHOLOGICAL BACKGROUND OF SYMPTOM PRODUCTION (Hungarian title - below)
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(Title in Hungarian - 'A kornyezeti elektromagneses terheles hatasanak tulajdonitott nem specifikus tunetek es a tunetkepzes pszichologiai hattertenyezoi'). Although there are no clear evidences that non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (NI-EMFs) undermine health, non-specific symptoms attributed to electromagnetic exposition are frequent in the general population. These complaints might be traced back to negative expectations determined by the cultural or social environment and to certain predisposing personality features, respectively. In the authors' study, 185 undergraduate student participants were asked to select those items of 15 non-favorable and 7 favorable symptoms evoked by electromagnetic fields which they believed they had experienced earlier. In addition, they completed psychological questionnaires (trait anxiety - STAI-T, perception of bodily symptoms/somatisation - PHQ-15, satisfaction with life - SWLS), and had also to estimate the degree of their computer and mobile phone exposition. The aim was to determine the quantitative and qualitative relationship among the measured psychological variables and the complaints attributed to EMF. Far more participants judged the effects of the electromagnetic fields unfavorable than favorable, especially regarding central nervous system symptoms. Amount of the complaints was directly predicted only by the frequency of computer use and by the perception of bodily symptoms (PHQ-15), whereas indirectly, via bodily symptoms, trait anxiety and gender also influenced the number of non-specific symptoms. It seems that information given about the potential damages caused by electromagnetic fields that is originally aimed to protect the public and to strengthen awareness, may also elicit negative expectations that - if predisposing personality factors are present - may lead to non-specific health problems. The authors suggest that public communication about the effects of EMFs should take this into account and should be far more objective.
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