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Year : 2005  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 26  |  Page : 21--29

Factors affecting the use of hearing protectors among classical music players

Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland

Correspondence Address:
H Laitinen
Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Department of Physics, Topeliuksenkatu 41 a A FIN-00250 Helsinki
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 16053602

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Classical musicians are often exposed to sound levels that exceed the Finnish national action limit value of 85 dB(A). Still, the use of hearing protectors is uncommon among musicians. The purpose of this study was to find out musician's attitudes towards hearing protectors, and under which conditions hearing protectors are used. The study group consisted of five major classical orchestras in the Helsinki region. The players were asked to fill out a questionnaire with questions on hearing protection, ear symptoms, including tinnitus, hearing loss, pain in the ears, and temporary ringing in the ears. Also, questions concerning stress and working environments were asked. Of those who responded, 94% were concerned about their hearing to some degree. Only 6% of the musicians always used hearing protector devices (HPDs). Self-­reported hearing loss was quite common, with 31% of the musicians reporting some hearing loss. Temporary tinnitus was even more common at 37%. There were 15% of women, and 18% of men reporting permanent tinnitus. Hyper-acusis was reported by 43% of the musicians. The ear symptoms affected the usage rate. Hearing protectors were used more often among musicians having ear symptoms (20%) than those reporting no symptoms (6%). Further, the 43% of the musicians found their work to be interesting and meaningful. Stress was experienced to some extent by 60%, and musicians with ear symptoms had three to nine times more stress and felt their working environment noisier. The study shows that musicians seldom use hearing protectors before symptoms begin. Symptoms increased usage rate, but the usage levels are still far from ideal. Motivation and training is needed to improve hearing protector use among musicians.


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