Utility of telephone company records for epidemiologic studies of cellular telephones

Epidemiology. 1996 May;7(3):299-302. doi: 10.1097/00001648-199605000-00014.


We conducted a survey of over 5,000 telephone users who were customers of one large cellular telephone company covering four major geographical areas. Our primary goal was to assess the utility of ascertaining information on telephone use and type from telephone company records. We compared information from 3,949 respondents with corresponding data from company billing records. We found that 48% of the account holders were sole users, and 69% were the primary user, meaning that they accounted for at least 75% of the use. Respondent reports of amount of telephone use were highly correlated with data on the billing record (r = 0.74). Respondent reports of telephone type were similarly correlated with data from the manufacturer (r = 0.92). We also inquired about telephone holding patterns, since these have implications for exposure. Most users reported favoring one side of the head when using the telephone, but the side of the head used was not strongly associated with handedness.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Data Collection
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiation Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Records / statistics & numerical data*
  • Telecommunications / instrumentation*
  • Telephone / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States