Mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances,
and symptoms of depression among young
adults - a prospective cohort study
Sara Thomée1*, Annika Härenstam2, Mats Hagberg1
Background: Because of the quick development and widespread use of mobile phones, and their vast effect on
communication and interactions, it is important to study possible negative health effects of mobile phone
exposure. The overall aim of this study was to investigate whether there are associations between psychosocial
aspects of mobile phone use and mental health symptoms in a prospective cohort of young adults.
Methods: The study group consisted of young adults 20-24 years old (n = 4156), who responded to a
questionnaire at baseline and 1-year follow-up. Mobile phone exposure variables included frequency of use, but
also more qualitative variables: demands on availability, perceived stressfulness of accessibility, being awakened at
night by the mobile phone, and personal overuse of the mobile phone. Mental health outcomes included current
stress, sleep disorders, and symptoms of depression. Prevalence ratios (PRs) were calculated for cross-sectional and
prospective associations between exposure variables and mental health outcomes for men and women separately.
Results: There were cross-sectional associations between high compared to low mobile phone use and stress, sleep
disturbances, and symptoms of depression for the men and women. When excluding respondents reporting
mental health symptoms at baseline, high mobile phone use was associated with sleep disturbances and symptoms
of depression for the men and symptoms of depression for the women at 1-year follow-up. All qualitative variables
had cross-sectional associations with mental health outcomes. In prospective analysis, overuse was associated with
stress and sleep disturbances... [continues]
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