Journal ‘looking into issues’ raised about study linking cell phone use to hornlike bone spurs

Journal 'looking into issues' raised about study linking cell phone use to hornlike bone spurs
© Scientific Reports | David Shahar & Mark G. L. Sayers 

A scientific journal says it will reevaluate a study it published recently linking bone spurs in the base of the skull to cell phone use after critics pointed out what they said were numerous flaws with the report’s findings.

The study in question, published originally in the journal Scientific Reports and later reported in various news outlets including The Hill and The Washington Post, claimed that evidence indicated a correlation between bone deformities in the back of patients’ skulls to the prevalent use of cell phones and other mobile devices by younger generations.


PBS Newshour reported Tuesday that editors at the magazine are looking into issues in the study, including the fact that researchers did not measure the cell phone use of those who participated in the study.

The study also reportedly made incorrect assertions about its own data in abstracts, such as one erroneous claim that stated that the study’s data showed the bone spurs to be more prevalent among men.

A Quartz article published on Saturday also revealed that one of the study’s authors, David Shahar Ph.D., reportedly operates an online store called “Dr. Posture” which sells, among other items, posture-improving pillows for patients who suffer from bad posture due to skeletal deformities or other reasons.

Patients in the study were also solicited directly from Shahar’s personal chiropractor’s practice, according to Quartz.

A spokesperson for Scientific Reports told PBS Newshour that the study was under review.

“We are looking into issues regarding this paper and we will take action where appropriate,” they said.

“When any concerns are raised with Scientific Reports about papers we have published, we investigate them carefully following established procedures, but we cannot comment on the specific editorial history of a particular paper published in the journal,” the spokesperson added.

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