Hearing, use of hearing protection, and attitudes towards noise among young American adults

Int J Audiol. 2009 Aug;48(8):537-45. doi: 10.1080/14992020902894541.


The purpose of the present study was to investigate possible associations between college students' attitudes, risk-taking behaviour related to noisy activities, and hearing problems such as threshold shifts or self-experienced hearing symptoms. The sample included 258 students aged between 17 and 21 enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. A questionnaire measuring attitudes towards noise, use of hearing protection, and self-reported hearing symptoms was distributed among the students. After completing the questionnaire a hearing screening, including pure-tone audiometry and tympanometry, was conducted. The result revealed that 26% had thresholds poorer than the screening level of 20 dBHL. Attitudes were significantly related to self-experienced hearing symptoms, but not to threshold shifts. Attitudes and noise sensitivity was, significantly related to use of hearing protection. Hearing protection use was found in activities such as using firearms, mowing lawns, and when using noisy tools but was less reported for concerts and discotheques. It can be concluded that the young adults in this study expose themselves to hearing risks, since the use of hearing protection is in general very low.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Audiometry, Pure-Tone
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Ear Protective Devices*
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hearing Loss / prevention & control
  • Hearing Loss / psychology
  • Hearing Tests
  • Hearing*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Risk-Taking
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Young Adult