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Hearing Health in College Instrumental Musicians and Prevention of Hearing Loss

Anne D. Olson, Lori F. Gooding, Fara Shikoh, Julie Graf
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 31 Number 1: Page 29 (March 2016)

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Abstract: OBJECTIVE: College musicians exhibit greater declines in hearing than the general population and are at particular risk because they rehearse and perform daily in loud environments. Also, they engage in use of personal listening devices which increases the amount of "exposure" time. Despite increased risk, many do not use hearing protection devices (HPD). The purpose of this study was to (1) to identify the present level of education about hearing health, (2) identify the perceived advantages and disadvantages of using HPD, and (3) evaluate results among different musical instrument groups. METHODS: A mixedmethods group design was used including both quantitative and qualitative instruments. SPSS was used to generate descriptive statistics, and non-parametric statistical analysis was performed on quantitative data. NVivo software was used to evaluate qualitative responses. RESULTS: Of the 90 college instrumental music students who participated, 12% reported a history of hearing loss, and over one-third reported tinnitus. Seventy-seven percent of participants had never received any training about hearing health and only a small percentage of students used HPD. The most cited reason for lack of protection use was its negative impact on sound quality. However, group differences were noted between brass, woodwind, and percussion musicians in terms of HPD uptake. CONCLUSION: Improving the type of information disseminated to college musicians may reduce the risk of ear-related deficits. Noise dosage information, HPD information, and prevention education grounded in theories like the Health Belief Model may increase awareness and promote greater use of HPDs in this population.

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