BMC Public Health. 2018 Nov 22;18(1):1286. doi: 10.1186/s12889-018-6198-7.
BACKGROUND: Many youth and young adults experience high noise exposure compounded by lack of access to hearing health education. Although the need for hearing health education programs is evident, the efficacy of these programs for youth is unclear. We evaluated the literature for efficacy of various hearing conservation programs aimed at youth and young adults, and analyzed their strengths and limitations.
METHODS: Studies reporting results of hearing conservation or hearing loss prevention programs with youth or young adults, using randomized controlled trials, quasi-experimental designs, experimental design, or qualitative research, and published in peer-reviewed journals in English between 2001 and 2018 were included. Studies were found through searches of selected literature databases (i.e., PubMed, Google Scholar, NIOSH Toxline, and Scopus). Identified publications were assessed for relevance, and data were extracted from the studies deemed relevant.
RESULTS: A total of 10 studies were included. Very little evidence of efficacy of hearing conservation educational programs was found in these studies. Several methodological limitations including lack of rigorous study designs, inadequate power, and application of inappropriate statistical analysis were noted. Some use of technology in programs (e.g., smartphone apps, mobile phone text messages, and computers) was observed, but conclusions as to the effectiveness of these tools were limited by the small number of studies and small sample sizes.
CONCLUSIONS: The number of studies of educational hearing conservation programs for youth and young adults was low. The efficacy of the program was not reported in most studies, and it is difficult to draw public health conclusions from these studies due to their multiple methodological limitations. While use of technology in hearing conservation educational programs offers promise, its effectiveness has not been studied.