Research Programs

Determinants of RF Health Concern

Chief Investigator: Prof. Rodney Croft
Co-Investigators: Adam Verrender, Dr. Sarah Loughran, Dr. Vitas Anderson, Associate Prof. Lena Hillert, Dr. Gunnhild Oftedal, Dr. James Rubin

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Case Studies

Background: There is a significant proportion of the population that suffer severe physical and psychological illness that they attribute to RF exposure. Yet science, so far, has been unable to find any evidence that the symptoms which these individuals experience are related to RF exposure. The condition is commonly known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). It is possible that many of the complexities underlying EHS have not been adequately accounted for in previous studies. As EHS is debilitating for many, understanding the role of RF EMF exposure in the formation of adverse symptoms is a crucial step in understanding the condition and being able to identify and develop appropriate methods of treatment.

Objectives: To determine the role of RF EMF in producing the symptoms which sensitive (EHS or IEI-EMF) individuals report as being associated with exposure.

Methods: This investigation will take an idiographic approach to determining the role of RF EMF exposure in producing adverse symptoms in sensitive individuals. The study will be conducted in an environment where the participant feels safe and asymptomatic, such as in their own home, to ensure that confounds such as stress and inadvertent exposure does not influence the results. 20 self-reported IEI-EMF sufferers, who report experiencing adverse symptoms within 30 minutes of being exposed to or in close vicinity to RF EMF emitted from mobile phones or Wi-Fi, and whose symptoms subside within 1 hour post-exposure, will be recruited. First, an initial open-label trial will be used to ensure that the signal used is relevant in producing the symptoms reported by the individual (those who do not respond at this stage will cease to participate in the study). Next, a series of individually tailored double-blind, sham controlled, cross-over provocation tests will be conducted to determine statistically, within an individual, whether RF exposure causes individually relevant symptoms, and/or whether the belief that individual is being exposed causes these effects. Each test will be tailored to each individual’s case history in terms of the amount of time required for symptoms to develop and dissipate.

Significance: If RF exposure indeed triggers the concern and associated symptoms, then RF avoidance may be a suitable strategy for symptom reduction, whereas if it is the result of a nocebo effect, then a psychologically complex scenario needs to be dealt with.

Timeline:
Study Preparation - Completed
Data Collection - To be completed by mid 2016
Data Analysis - planned mid 2016
Publication - planned late 2016

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Last reviewed: 8 July, 2015