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The effect of long-term radiofrequency exposure on cognition in human observational studies: A protocol for a systematic review


Geza Benke, Michael J.Abramson, B.M.Zeleke, Jordy Kaufman, Ken Karipidis, Helen Kelsall, Steve McDonald, Chris Brzozek, Maria Feychting, Sue Brennan 


Monash University, Swinburne University of Technology, ARPANSA & Karolinska Institutet


Environment International


January 2022


The long term effects of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) for frequencies from 100 kHz to 300 GHz on cognitive performance are best assessed using observational studies. In recent years, the use of mobile (cell) phones has been the main source of RF EMF exposure to the brain, although other sources of exposure may be significant. Cognitive function includes various mental and psychological abilities, which can be measured in a range of domains, such as learning, memory, reasoning, problem solving, decision making and attention. Although effects on cognitive function may be most evident later in life, in the experimental setting acute and immediate effects can only be studied. Observational studies are needed when effects are observed after months or years following short or long-term exposure. The importance of the effects of exposure on children has also been recently identified.


Methods for this systematic review are based on the Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions (Higgins, 2019) with adaptations for reviews of exposure (Whaley, 2020, OHAT, 2019) and to meet WHO requirements for guideline development (WHO 2014). The protocol is reported in accordance with the PRISMA-P statement (Moher et al., 2015, Shamseer et al., 2015) with consideration given to the requirements for reporting of review methods in the PRISMA 2020 statement (Page, 2020). In case any amendments to this protocol are made during the review process, changes and related reasons will be reported in the final article.

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