Prevalence and psychiatric comorbidity of self-reported electromagnetic field sensitivity in Taiwan: a population-based study

J Formos Med Assoc. 2011 Oct;110(10):634-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jfma.2011.08.005. Epub 2011 Sep 14.


Background/purpose: Psychological factors have been implicated in the etiology of idiopathic environmental illness in many studies. Few studies have ever reported psychiatric morbidity among individuals with electromagnetic hypersensitivity. We aimed to estimate the prevalence and identify the associated factors of self-reported electromagnetic field sensitivity (SREMFS) in adults of Taiwan.

Methods: A total of 1251 adults selected from a nationwide Computer-Assisted Telephone Interviewing system received a telephone survey about the perception of risk from various environmental agents and their effects on health and well-being.

Results: The estimated prevalence of people with SREMFS was 13.3 % (95% confidence interval: 11.2-15.3). People aged >65 years were associated with a lower risk of reporting sensitivity to electromagnetic fields, whereas people with a very poor self-reported health status, those who were unable to work, and those who had psychiatric morbidity were associated with a higher risk of having SREMFS.

Conclusion: The prevalence of SREMFS in the general population of Taiwan is higher than that reported in western countries. People with psychiatric morbidity are more likely to report sensitivity to electromagnetic fields. The cross-sectional design precludes the causal inference of all identified correlates and electromagnetic field sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Illness / complications
  • Environmental Illness / epidemiology*
  • Environmental Illness / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Sensation*
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Young Adult