Media health warnings trigger symptoms from sham exposure

July 5, 2013
Media health warnings trigger symptoms from sham exposure
Individuals who watched a news report about the adverse health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields were more likely to experience symptoms after a 15-minute sham exposure to a WiFi signal than those who watched a control film, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.

(HealthDay)—Individuals who watched a news report about the adverse health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) were more likely to experience symptoms after a 15-minute sham exposure to a WiFi signal than those who watched a control film, according to a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research.

Michael Witthöft, Ph.D., and G. James Rubin, Ph.D., of King's College London, randomly assigned participants to watch either a television report about the of exposure to EMF (76 participants) or a control film (71 participants). After watching the film, all participants received a 15-minute sham exposure to a WiFi signal. Participants filled out questionnaires to evaluate anxiety and symptom scores at baseline, after watching the film, and after receiving the sham exposure.

The researchers found that about half (54 percent) of the participants reported symptoms that they believed were caused by the sham exposure to a WiFi signal. Those who watched the film had significant increases in worries related to EMF. Other significant increases that occurred among those who watched the warning film included post sham exposure symptoms, in those with pre-existing high anxiety; the chances of symptoms being attributed to the sham exposure, in those with high anxiety; and the chances of those who believed their symptoms were related to the sham exposure thinking that they were sensitive to EMF.

"Media reports about the adverse effects of supposedly can increase the likelihood of experiencing symptoms following sham exposure and developing an apparent sensitivity to it," the authors write. "Greater engagement between journalists and scientists is required to counter these negative effects."

One author has given expert testimony about the installation of WiFi equipment.

Explore further: The nocebo effect: Media reports may trigger symptoms of a disease

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2 comments

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ormondotvos
3 / 5 (2) Jul 06, 2013
I think the brain damage precedes the wifi exposure symptom, generally.
Joyful Lady
3 / 5 (2) Jul 10, 2013
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I have been saying this for years. With what we already know about placebo and nocebo it was a no-brainer but it is so nice to have research supporting it.

The mind-body connection is so important. Any and all work that furthers our understanding and helps individuals understand how to better use it for the benefit of their health & well-being the better the world will be for all.

Thank you!

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