Coping and self-image in patients with visual display terminal-related skin symptoms and perceived hypersensitivity to electricity

  • J. Bergdahl
  • B. Stenberg
  • N. Eriksson
  • G. Lindén
  • L. Widman
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00420-004-0546-x

Cite this article as:
Bergdahl, J., Stenberg, B., Eriksson, N. et al. Int Arch Occup Environ Health (2004) 77: 538. doi:10.1007/s00420-004-0546-x

Abstract

Objectives: The aim of the present study was to measure coping resources and self-image in patients with visual display terminal (VDT)-related skin symptoms and hypersensitivity to electricity (HE).

Methods: From 1980 to 1998, 350 patients with electrical sensitivity were registered. The patients were subdivided into two groups: patients with skin symptoms evoked by VDTs, television screens, and fluorescent-light tubes and patients with so-called hypersensitivity to electricity with multiple symptoms evoked by exposure to different electrical environments. A questionnaire was sent to all patients and contained the coping resources inventory (CRI) and the structural analysis of social behaviour (SASB) in order for us to measure coping resources and self-image, respectively. The CRI and SASB scores were compared with those of control groups. Two hundred and fifty respondents (73%) returned the questionnaire, 200 (78.5% women) in the VDT group and 50 (62% women) in the HE group.

Results: The patient group rated high on the CRI spiritual/philosophical scale and high on the SASB spontaneous, positive and negative clusters but low on the controlled cluster. The female patients scored high on the CRI emotional scale. The VDT group rated lower than the controls on the SASB controlled cluster and higher on both the positive and negative cluster. The HE group scored higher than the control group on the SASB spontaneous and positive clusters. The women in the HE group scored higher on the CRI cognitive and CRI total scale than the VDT group and control group and higher on the CRI emotional scale than the controls. The women in the HE group rated higher than both the women in the VDT and control groups on the SASB spontaneous and positive clusters.

Conclusions: The deviant self-image found in these patients, especially the female HE patients, support the view that VDT and HE symptoms can be stress related. In the clinic, a trustful alliance should be established with the patient in order for a more realistic view to be achieved of the capacity.

Keywords

CopingEnvironmental illnessHypersensitivity to electricitySelf-imageVisual display terminals

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Bergdahl
    • 1
  • B. Stenberg
    • 2
  • N. Eriksson
    • 3
  • G. Lindén
    • 4
  • L. Widman
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  2. 2.Dermatology & Venereology and Epidemiology, Department of Public Health and Clinical MedicineUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  3. 3.Department of SociologyUmeå UniversityUmeåSweden
  4. 4.Department of Occupational and Environmental MedicineUniversity Hospital of Northern SwedenUmeåSweden