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Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2010 Nov;107(46):817-23. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2010.0817. Epub 2010 Nov 19.

The views of primary care physicians on health risks from electromagnetic fields.

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Unit for Health Promotion Research, Southern University of Denmark, Niels Bohr Vej 9, 6700 Esbjerg, Denmark.



The aim of this study was to find out what primary care physicians in Germany think about the possible health risks of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and how they deal with this topic in discussions with patients.


Questionnaires were mailed to a nationwide, representative sample drawn from the regional associations of statutory health insurance physicians in Germany, consisting of 2795 primary care physicians (7% random sample of the total number in the country). 435 of them returned four-page questionnaires (response rate, 23.3%), and 456 returned a one-page questionnaire (response rate, 49.1%). They were asked about their views on the health risks of electromagnetic fields and about their experience with patients on this topic.


61.4% of the primary care physicians reported having discussed the possible health risks of electromagnetic fields with at least one patient. In 73.4% of these discussions, the patient raised the subject first and presumed that such risks do, in fact, exist. Among all discussions in which the patient expressed this concern, the physician considered the association to be plausible only 24.1% of the time. In half of all consultations in which EMF was discussed as a possible danger, the physician recommended some type of protective measure. The most frequent recommendation was to remove electrical equipment; the second most frequent, to move to another location. The physicians' answers to the questionnaires revealed a poor knowledge of the properties and risks of electromagnetic fields.


Primary care physicians often discuss the putative health risks of electromagnetic fields with their patients, yet their recommendations very often are not evidence-based and might have major consequences in their patients' lives.

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