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Cell phone use and mental health (Sweden)

May 5, 2011

A Swedish study has found that expectations around constant availability for communication are associated with mental health outcomes such as stress, sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression among young adults. The study group consisted of 4156 young adults aged 20-24 years who responded to a baseline questionnaire and a follow up survey after one year.

A cross-sectional analysis also showed that high mobile phone usage was associated with the same negative mental health outcomes, compared to low mobile phone usage. After one-year, high mobile phone use was associated with sleep disturbances and symptoms of depression for male respondents and symptoms of depression for female respondents.

The study does not establish any causal links and the authors caution that the self-reported responses are subject to biases and difficulties stemming from the reliance on memory recall of the subjects.

The authors suggest that public health prevention strategies could include advice to support changes in attitudes regarding mobile phone use, which include boundaries to reduce the stress of constant availability for communication and phone overuse.

See “Mobile Phone Use and Stress, Sleep Disturbances, and Symptoms of Depression among Young Adults – A Prospective Cohort Study” BMC Public Health 2011;11 at www.medscape.com.

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