BMC Public Health. 2015 Apr 18;15:399. doi: 10.1186/s12889-015-1743-0.


BACKGROUND: Hearing loss and tinnitus are prevalent in America, and noise-induced hearing loss is a leading cause of hearing loss. Noise-induced hearing loss has negative impact on quality of life, physical and emotional functioning, social life, and employment. In addition, noise-induced hearing loss results in heavy social and economic burdens on families and communities from all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Farmers are a group that is particularly high risk for noise-induced hearing loss, and is underserved by programs designed to limit that risk. They are among the most noise-exposed group of workers, and experience the second highest prevalence of noise-induced hearing loss among all occupational categories. In agriculture, 1.5 million workers (43.3%) report exposure to hazardous noise. Although use of hearing protection devices (HPDs) would protect them from noise-induced hearing loss, use among farmers is low.

METHODS/DESIGN: The purpose of this project is to compare the effectiveness of several approaches to influencing hearing protector use. Approaches include: a) an interactive, predictors-based intervention delivered via the Internet; b) a static informational web site; and c) a mailed sampler of hearing protectors. The goals are to further develop an intervention to promote farmers’ use of HPDs, and compare the effectiveness of the interventions delivered in various combinations. Participants will include 701 farmers. Sites will be affiliates of a major farmer organization. Data will be collected at baseline, 6, and 12 months. A random intercept mixed model will be used to explore the fixed effects of the three NIHL prevention interventions over time while adjusting for age and gender. This project will involve a partnership between the University of Michigan and a major farmer organization to accomplish project aims.

DISCUSSION: Results of this study will be used to inform future research-to-practice studies to increase hearing protector use. Increased use of hearing protectors is expected to reduce rates of noise-induced hearing loss and other negative effects of high noise exposure, and improve quality of life in this high-risk and underserved group.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: NCT01454895 Registered 14 October, 2011.

PMID:25927191 | PMC:PMC4412111 | DOI:10.1186/s12889-015-1743-0