Changes in the Prevalence and Characteristics of Hearing Loss in a Noise-Exposed Population Between 1980 and 2015
Keywords:Noise-induced hearing loss, hearing protection, Longitudinal, workers, prevalence, British Columbia
Updated regulations, improved noise reduction, and increased use of hearing protective devices (HPDs) may result in better hearing for noise-exposed workers. In a retrospective longitudinal (1980-2015) cohort study, we conducted a secondary analysis of a database of annual hearing tests from noise-exposed workers aged 20-55 years old. Sample size per cohort ranged from n=1386 to n=5165. No clinically-meaningful cohort differences in thresholds of 5 dB or greater were found for 20- or 30-year olds. For 45- and 55-year olds, later-born cohorts had better thresholds than earlier-born cohorts. Prevalence of hearing loss decreased for later-born cohorts for 30, 45, and 55-year olds. Twenty-year olds in later cohorts were more likely to use HPD than those in earlier cohorts. The lower prevalence of hearing loss and better thresholds in these noise-exposed workers may be due to increased HPD use, changes in workplace regulations, improved workplace noise control, or changed attitudes towards recreational noise exposure.
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