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Mobile Phone Usage and Mental Health Study

Research Problem and Purpose

The general purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between psychological elements of mobile phone usage and mental health issues in a potential group of young people. Specifically, the study focused on investigating various elements of the frequency of the use of mobile phone, including different aspects of usage such as demands on availability, possible stress associated with accessibility, being awakened at night to receive phone calls, possible personal overuse, and their relationship with identified cases of stress, depression symptoms, and notable sleep disturbances. Besides, the researchers also wanted to explore the relationship between the frequency of mobile phone use and perceived social support.

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Literature Review

The authors provided background information about the study. This section was supported by related past studies in the same area of study. For instance, from past studies, the authors observed that several young people in Sweden and other parts of the world have reported growing cases of mental health challenges. Further, several past studies had linked such mental health issues to the use of mobile phones by identifying “headaches, earache, and warmth sensations, as well as perceived concentration difficulties and fatigue” (Thomée, Härenstam, & Hagberg, 2011, p. 66). The researchers used 38 past studies to support this study.

Study Framework

Although the authors did not include any framework, the major concepts for this study were mental health challenges associated with mobile phone usages. Besides, the framework also covered frequencies of mobile phone use and reported cases of mental health.

Other issues associated with mobile phone use include exposure beyond the frequency of use, as well as addiction to mobile phones.

Young people aged between 20 and 24 years old were the subjects in this study.

Research Objectives, Questions, or Hypothesis

The research objective was to examine potential relationships between “mobile phone use and mental health outcomes in a more general or heterogeneous population of young adults, using a longitudinal design” (Thomée et al., 2011, p. 66).

Study Variables

These variables included mobile phone exposure variables such as incidence of calls, rate of recurrence of SMS, mobile phone utilization, wake up at night, accessibility demands, ease of access stress, and overuse.

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Mental health outcome variables were present stress, sleep interference, and dejection (Thomée et al., 2011, p. 66).

Besides, other background variables included relationship status, highest completed educational level, and occupation.

Social support variable accounted for accessibility to support private life issues.


While there were no clearly defined study assumptions, one can expect that these variables interacted to cause mental health issues for the study population. This assumption has provided the basis for this research.


Limitations of this study were mainly centered on methodological considerations. First, the study did not account for the time for exposure to mental health issues. Second, the questionnaire used could have collected subjective responses rather than objective, actual ones on mental disorders. Third, the limitation was also suspected of recall bias and recall difficulties. Also, consolidating data for phone use (calls and texts) led to the loss of some information. Fourth, the researchers only focused on psychosocial elements of mobile phone use but ignored possible confounding variables such as personality. Finally, there was a significant rate of drop out among participants selected for the study.

Research Design

The study design was a baseline survey that aimed to provide information on the status of mobile phone use and related mental health issues among a cohort of young adults aged 20-24 years old as defined by the UN. Consequently, the researchers were able to quantify study variables during the period of study.

Population and Sample

A cohort of young people aged between 20 and 24 years old who were born between 1983 and 1987 was randomly selected to participate in this study.

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The study targeted 10,000 men and 10,000 women. However, the rate of the dropout was extremely high at 79% and therefore only 4,156 participants completed the study.

Half of the respondents originated from the County of Västra Götaland, Sweden while the rest from other parts of the country.

Methods of Measurement

Variables were operationalized to measure aspects of the study that were not easy to quantify. For instance, the researchers used high, medium, and low categories to depict availability and accessibility with mobile phone use.

Data Collection

Data were collected using a questionnaire. First, the postal questionnaire was sent to all respondents. A similar questionnaire was administered a year later through the Web while the final questionnaire, which was a paper version, was also sent to respondents.

Data Analysis

SAS version 9.2 was used in all data analyses. The researchers conducted separate analyses for men and women. The relationships between “mobile phone exposure variables and between mobile phone use and social support were determined using Spearman correlation while the Cox proportional hazard model (PHREG) was used to analyzed prevalence ratios (PRs)” (Thomée et al., 2011, p. 66).

Research Outcomes

From the analyses, the researchers established that there were cross-sectional and prospective relationships “between mobile phone variables and mental health outcomes among the young adults” (Thomée et al., 2011, p. 66). Some participants with a high frequency of use had greater risks for sleep disturbances and depression.


Thomée, S., Härenstam, A., & Hagberg, M. (2011). Mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults – a prospective cohort study. BMC Public Health, 11, 66. Web.

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