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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2011 Dec;107(3):356-61. doi: 10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2011.08.013. Epub 2011 Sep 9.

Predictors and overestimation of recalled mobile phone use among children and adolescents.

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  • 1Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel, Switzerland.


A growing body of literature addresses possible health effects of mobile phone use in children and adolescents by relying on the study participants' retrospective reconstruction of mobile phone use. In this study, we used data from the international case-control study CEFALO to compare self-reported with objectively operator-recorded mobile phone use. The aim of the study was to assess predictors of level of mobile phone use as well as factors that are associated with overestimating own mobile phone use. For cumulative number and duration of calls as well as for time since first subscription we calculated the ratio of self-reported to operator-recorded mobile phone use. We used multiple linear regression models to assess possible predictors of the average number and duration of calls per day and logistic regression models to assess possible predictors of overestimation. The cumulative number and duration of calls as well as the time since first subscription of mobile phones were overestimated on average by the study participants. Likelihood to overestimate number and duration of calls was not significantly different for controls compared to cases (OR=1.1, 95%-CI: 0.5 to 2.5 and OR=1.9, 95%-CI: 0.85 to 4.3, respectively). However, likelihood to overestimate was associated with other health related factors such as age and sex. As a consequence, such factors act as confounders in studies relying solely on self-reported mobile phone use and have to be considered in the analysis.

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