Comments by the Academic Editors Regarding: “Evaluation of Quality of Life of Those Living near a Wind Farm“:

These papers document an important debate between wind-friendly academics who argue that those living near wind turbines benefit from the experience and those who insist such conclusions are backed by inappropriate study methodologies and broad assertions that cloud actual findings. In this circumstance, Dr Daniel Shepherd a PhD in psychoacoustics and head of research at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand, challenges the methods and conclusions of Mroczek et al.’s “Evaluation of Quality of Life of Those Living near a Wind Farm“ published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2015, 12, 6066–6083. The academic editors of the Journal, after granting Mroczek the opportunity to respond, agree with Shepherd's main criticisms. In total, there are four papers documenting this debate; three are attached to this page. These include Shepherd's critique, Mroczek's response and the position of the Journal's academic editors. Portions of the response by the Journal's editors are also provided below.


We are aware of the current divide in the scientific assessment of the potential health effects of wind turbine installations. Therefore, a transparent, scientific, and open debate is necessary, and it is our duty as editors and reviewers to take such a critique seriously. There were six major points of critique expressed by Shepherd [1] regarding the paper of Mroczek et al. [2] in this journal. The editors received another comment; however, the person did not want to have the comment published. This comment is, however, covered by Shepherd’s comments. We reassessed the paper [2] and the critique [1] and came to the following conclusions.


2. Conflicts of Interest

There is no doubt that the first author would have been obliged by a variety of international ethic rules to report about her husband’s (Jaroslaw Mroczek) involvement as the Polish Wind Energy Association (PWEA) President in the Polish windfarm community, and as a member of the Top Management team in the EPA Sp. z o.o. around the time the study was conducted. Jaroslaw Mroczek is currently (time of publication in 2015) President of the EPA Sp. z o.o. It is a requirement to disclose such relationships—especially in cases where no direct money from the windfarm community was involved in the project. The International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) Form for Disclosure of Potential Conflicts of Interest states clearly in Section 5 [5]: “Are there other relationships or activities that readers could perceive to have influenced, or that give the appearance of potentially influencing, what you wrote in the submitted work?”


7. What Is Different in This Study from Others (and Should Have Been Discussed)

7.1. Sociodemographic Factors

A few socio-demographic features are unusual in the sample and should have been sensibly discussed in comparison with other studies—as these factors strongly influence the morbidity prevalence of the sample. 

- High unemployment proportion.

- Low proportion of higher education (thus adjustment for education is not working).

- Age range up to 94 (women) and 85 (men).

7.2. Health Related Factors

- A very high proportion of people with diseases was described in this study; afflictions included hypertension (26.62%, 340), rheumatism (14.17%, 181), coronary heart disease (12.84%, 164), and diabetes (11.82%, 151). e.g., Fabian et al. in 2005 [16] reported the local prevalence of diabetes in Szczecin (Poland) as 3.56% in age 3–95 years (mean 65.4 13.6 years)

- From international data bases you get the following picture:

1. The prevalence of diabetes in the study is even higher than expected. The OECD (2013) [17] estimated the prevalence of diabetes for Poland at 9.2%.

2. Prevalence of hypertension is within the higher range in Europe.

3. Coronary heart disease (CHD) prevalence is higher than that in other parts of Europe, except for the eastern countries

Overall, there is a higher burden of illness in this survey sample compared with other studies of this kind.

7.3. Proportion of Survey Residents Who May Profit from the Windfarm Installation Different from other studies, a high proportion of survey residents may profit economically from windfarm installations in this study:

- residents who derived real economic benefits by leasing their land (8.65%; n = 110)

- residents who expected to be able to lease their land at the planning stage (21.78%; n = 277)

A comparison with a similar question from Table 3 in the study of Bakker et al. in 2012 [18] showed that the proportion of residents who may profit somehow from the windfarm installation was only 99/685 = 14.4% in the sample of Bakker et al.


9. Conclusions

The close involvement of the first author’s husband with the wind turbine industry was not mentioned at the time of submission.

The authors did not follow important advice from the reviewers on central issues (e.g., irritation vs. annoyance, discussion of limitations, and discrepant results).

There are also scientific concerns with the presentation of the SF-36 data.

The conclusions drawn were not appropriate based on the inherent limitations and other peculiarities (see Point 7) of the study population.

Note from the editor: This editorial was provided by the Academic Editors in response to the reply provided by Mroczek and co-workers. This is only a part of an extensive discussion. The entire discussion will be also published.


Ijerph 14 00141 V2 Mroczek

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Ijerph 14 00272 Editors

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Ijerph 14 00140 Shepherd

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MAR 8 2017
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