German wide cross sectional survey on health impacts of electromagnetic fields in the view of general practitioners.
Kowall B, Breckenkamp J, Heyer K, Berg-Beckhoff G.
Department of Epidemiology and International Public Health, School of Public Health, University of Bielefeld, PO 100131, 33501, Bielefeld, Germany.
The proportion of general practitioners (GPs) in Germany who assume health impacts of electromagnetic fields (EMF) is assessed. Moreover, factors associated with this risk perception are examined.
A 7% random sample was drawn from online lists of all the GPs working in Germany. 1,867 doctors received a long version of a self-administered postal questionnaire about EMF and health (response rate 23.3%), 928 doctors received a short version (response rate 49.1%).
37.3% of responders to the short and 57.5% of responders to the long questionnaire agreed "that there are persons whose health complaints are caused by EMF when legal limit values are met". A late responder analysis for the survey with the short questionnaire led to a still lower estimate of 29% for GPs believing in health-relevant effects of EMF.
About a third of German GPs associate EMF with health complaints and thus deviate considerably from current scientific knowledge. To avoid a strong selection bias in the surveys of the perception of EMF risks, use of short questionnaires and late responder analysis are recommended.
Int J Public Health. 2009 Dec 18. [Epub ahead of print]
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