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The purpose was to examine long-term consequences of exposure to electrical current passing through the body. We investigated (1) whether electricians after having experienced an electrical accident report more cognitive problems and lower mental wellbeing and (2) have objectively verifiable reduced cognitive function; and (3) which circumstances at the time of the accident affect long-term subjective cognitive function and mental wellbeing?
A survey of male electricians who had experienced electrical accidents (n = 510) and a clinical study in a subsample (n = 23) who reported residual health problems was carried out. Both groups were examined regarding subjective cognitive function (Euroquest-9) and mental wellbeing (Symptom Checklist-90 subscales). The clinical study included neuropsychological tests of memory, attention, spatial function, and premorbid intellectual capacity. A matched control group was retrieved from reference data.
The survey participants reported more cognitive problems and lower mental wellbeing than referents. Of the examined circumstances, having experienced mortal fear at the time of the accident and health complaints, especially mental symptoms, for > 1 week after the accident were the most significant risk factors for later subjective cognitive problems and lower mental wellbeing. The only statistically significant difference in neuropsychological tests was better performance in part of the memory tests by the clinical study group compared to the control group.
The participants reported more cognitive problems and lower mental wellbeing than referents, but no long-term objective cognitive dysfunction was detected. Emotional response at the time of the accident and health complaints in the aftermath of the accident may constitute important indications for medical and psychological follow-ups.
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- Cognition and mental wellbeing after electrical accidents: a survey and a clinical study among Swedish male electricians
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International Archives of Occupational and Environmental Health
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