Prevalence of hearing loss and accuracy of self-report among factory workers

Marjorie C. McCullagh, Delbert Raymond, Madeleine J. Kerr, Sally L. Lusk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations

Abstract

Noise represents one of the most common occupational health hazards. A Healthy People 2020 objective aims to reduce hearing loss in the noise-exposed public. The purpose of this study was to describe and compare perceived and measured hearing, and to determine the prevalence of hearing loss among a group of factory workers. Data collected as part of an intervention study promoting hearing protector use among workers at an automotive factory in the Midwest were used. Plant employees (n=2691) provided information regarding their perceived hearing ability, work role, and other demographics. The relationships among audiograms, a single-item measure of perceived hearing ability, and demographic data were explored using chi-square, McNemar′s test, Mann-Whitney U-test, sensitivity, and specificity. The prevalence of hearing loss among noise-exposed factory workers was 42% (where hearing loss was defined as >25 dB loss at the OSHA-recommended frequencies of 2, 3, and 4 kHz in either ear). However, 76% of workers reported their hearing ability as excellent or good. The difference in perceived hearing ability was significant at each tested frequency between those with and without measured hearing loss. Self-reported hearing ability was poorly related to results of audiometry. Although this group of workers was employed in a regulated environment and served by a hearing conservation program, hearing loss was highly prevalent. These findings, together with national prevalence estimates, support the need for evaluation of hearing conservation programs and increased attention to the national goal of reducing adult hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-347
Number of pages8
JournalNoise and Health
Volume13
Issue number54
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Keywords

  • Audiometry
  • auditory perception
  • factory workers
  • hearing loss
  • prevalence

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