Hearing Difficulties and Tinnitus in Construction, Agricultural, Music, and Finance Industries: Contributions of Demographic, Health, and Lifestyle Factors

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High levels of occupational noise exposure increase the risk of hearing difficulties and tinnitus. However, differences in demographic, health, and lifestyle factors could also contribute to high levels of hearing difficulties and tinnitus in some industries. Data from a sub-sample (n = 22,936) of the UK Biobank were analysed to determine to what extent differences in levels of hearing difficulties and tinnitus in ‘high-risk’ industries (construction, agricultural and music) compared to ‘low-risk’ industries (finance) could be attributable to demographic, health and lifestyle factors, rather than occupational noise exposure. Hearing difficulties were identified using a digits-in-noise speech recognition test. Tinnitus was identified based on self-report. Logistic regression analyses showed that occupational noise exposure partially accounted for higher levels of hearing difficulties in the agricultural industry compared to finance, and occupational noise exposure, older age, low socioeconomic status and non-white ethnic background partially accounted for higher levels of hearing difficulties in the construction industry. However, the factors assessed in the model did not fully account for the increased likelihood of hearing difficulties in high-risk industries, suggesting that there are additional unknown factors which impact on hearing or that there was insufficient measurement of factors included in the model. The levels of tinnitus were greatest for music and construction industries compared to finance, and these differences were accounted for by occupational and music noise exposure, as well as older age. These findings emphasise the need to promote hearing conservation in occupational and music settings, with a particular focus on high-risk demographic sub-groups.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2331216519885571
Number of pages52
JournalTrends in Hearing (Online)
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2019

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