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Vol. 75, No. 1, 2006
Issue release date: 2006

A Systematic Review of Treatments for Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity

Rubin G.J. · Das Munshi J. · Wessely S.
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Abstract

Background: Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is a poorly understood condition in which patients report symptoms following perceived exposure to weak electromagnetic fields (EMFs) such as those produced by mobile phones or visual display units. Little is known about the aetiology of the condition although experimental data suggest that EMFs are an unlikely causal agent. In this systematic review we assessed the efficacy of any treatment for people reporting EHS. Methods: Twelve literature databases were examined to identify relevant studies. We also hand-searched conference proceedings and examined the reference sections of reviews and other papers. Only clinical trials that compared the efficacy of a potential treatment for EHS against a control condition were included in the review. Results: Nine controlled clinical trials were identified, examining the effects of cognitive behavioural therapy (4 studies), visual display unit screen filters (2 studies), ‘shielding’ EMF emitters (1 study), supplementary antioxidant therapy (1 study) and acupuncture (1 study). The quality of these studies was limited. Nevertheless, their results suggest that cognitive behavioural therapy is more effective than providing no treatment. None of the other therapies have had their efficacy adequately demonstrated. Conclusions: The evidence base concerning treatment options for EHS is limited and more research is needed before any definitive clinical recommendations can be made. However, the best evidence currently available suggests that cognitive behavioural therapy is effective for patients who report being hypersensitive to weak EMFs.



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