Objectives: (1) To conduct a contemporary analysis of historical data on short-term efficacy of a 3-year hearing conservation program conducted from 1992 to 1996 in Wisconsin, USA, with 753 high school students actively involved in farm work; (2) to establish procedures for assessment of hearing loss for use in a recently funded follow-up of this same hearing conservation program cohort. Methods: We analyzed a pragmatic cluster-randomized controlled trial, with schools as the unit of randomization. Thirty-four rural schools were recruited and randomized to intervention or control. The intervention included classroom instruction, distribution of hearing protection devices, direct mailings, noise level assessments, and yearly audiometric testing. The control group received the audiometric testing. Results: Students exposed to the hearing conservation program reported more frequent use of hearing protection devices, but there was no evidence of reduced levels of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Conclusion: Our analysis suggests that, since NIHL is cumulative, a 3-year study was likely not long enough to evaluate the efficacy of this intervention. While improvements in reported use of hearing protection devices were noted, the lasting impact of these behaviors is unknown and the finding merits corroboration by longer term objective hearing tests. A follow-up study of the cohort has recently been started.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health ( R01 OH009392 and Cooperative Agreement U07/CCU507126 ) and the National Farm Medicine Center, Marshfield, Wisconsin.
- Hearing conservation
- Noise-induced hearing loss