Noise Induced Hearing Loss and Hearing Protection in African-America Workers

Research Trainee: Oi Saeng Hong, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow in Community Health Nursing at the University of Michigan

Faculty Researcher: Sally L. Lusk, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Nursing, University of Michigan

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) is an irreversible impairment cause significant monetary and personal costs. Because NIHL is irreversible, prevention is the most important means of reducing the prevalence of this condition. Consistent use of hearing protection devices (HPDs) reduces noise exposure and subsequent NIHL. Because workers do not consistently use HPDs, there is a need to identify the most effective ways to assist workers in adopting the use of HPDs. In particular, little attention has been directed toward describing the prevalence of hearing loss among African-American workers, their use of HPDs, and identifying the most effective way to assure proper use of HPDs.

This project will investigate the effectiveness of a tailored intervention program to increase the use of HPDs by African-American workers. Three specific aims will be addressed: 1) determining the prevalence of hearing loss in African-American factory workers, 2) identifying the most important predictors of African-American factory workers’ use of HPDs, and 3) determining the effectiveness of hearing protection interventions for African-American factory workers to increase their use of HPDs.

The proposed project will use data from about 385 African-American workers in an ongoing intervention study of approximately 3,500 workers in a Midwestern automotive factory. The proposed study will assess a new training technology, an individually-tailored, interactive, multimedia program delivered by computer. This method builds on recent research findings regarding the effectiveness of individually-tailored interventions. Results will provide a model for future intervention research in occupational safety and health and aid in reducing NIHL.


Publications resulting from this project:
Hong O, Lusk SL, Ronis DL. Ethnic differences in predictors of hearing protection behavior between Black and White workers. Research and Theory for Nursing Practice. 2005;19(1):63-76.


Grants resulting from this project:
CDC/NIOSH. 1R01 OH004034-010A (PI:HONG). Effectiveness of computer-based hearing test & training. 2000-2001.


Research trainee’s current position:
Oi Saeng Hong is currently a Professor at the University of California-San Francisco School of Nursing.