The University of Michigan School ofNursing study found significant differences between measured and perceived hearing loss, and suggests health care providers need better methods of testing and protecting hearing among factory workers.
“This finding shows that even workers who are served by a workplace hearing conservation program and receive annual hearing testing may be unaware of their actual hearing ability,” said Marjorie McCullagh, assistant professor in the U-M School of nursing and principal investigator. “Consequently, health care providers would be wise to examine methods to help workers develop more accurate perceptions of their hearing, and test more effective methods to protect it.”
Of 2,691 noise exposed automobile factory workers surveyed for the study, 76 percent reported excellent or good hearing. However, after formal hearing tests, researchers found that that 42 percent of those workers actually suffered hearing loss. This indicates that self-reported hearing loss is poorly related to the results of audiometry, or formal hearing testing. In other words, many factory workers might have hearing loss and not even realize there’s a problem, and the U-M findings are consistent with other studies demonstrating a discrepancy between measured and perceived hearing loss.