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A Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Patients Suffering from "Electric Hypersensitivity": Subjective Effects and Reactions in a Double-Blind Provocation Study

Andersson, Bengt MA; Berg, Mats MD PhD; Arnetz, Bengt B. MD, PhD, MPH; Melin, Lennart PhD; Langlet, Ingvar DSc; Lidén, Sture MD, PhD

Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine: August 1996 - Volume 38 - Issue 8 - p 752-758
Original Article

This study tested psychological treatment of patients with "electric hypersensitivity." Seventeen patients were randomly assigned to a treatment group or a waiting-list control group in a pretest-posttest control group design. The patients were also taking part in double-blind provocation tests before and after the treatment. Subjective ratings of symptoms were registered and blood samples were taken and analyzed for "stress-related" variables, such as prolactin, cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone, and cholesterol levels. The patients in the experimental group reduced their evaluations of the disability more than the control group did. This indicates that psychological treatment may be of value in this disease. However, none of the psychophysiological measures or the subjective reactions to the provocation test showed any significant between-group difference. The conclusion from the provocation test is that this group of alleged hypersensitive patients did not react to the electromagnetic fields.

From the Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Uppsala (Mr Andersson and Dr Melin); the Department of Dermatology, Karolinska Hospital (Drs Berg and Lidén); the Department of Stress Research, Karolinska Institute (Dr Arnetz); and Swedish National Institute of Radiation Protection (Dr Langlet).

Address correspondence to: Bengt Andersson, MA, Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Uppsala, Box 1225, S-751 42 Uppsala, Sweden.

© Williams & Wilkins 1996. All Rights Reserved.