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Year : 2013  |  Volume : 15  |  Issue : 65  |  Page : 224--230

Road traffic noise and health-related quality of life: A cross-sectional study

1 School of Population Health, The University of Auckland, Auckland, NewZealand
2 Department of Psychology, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, NewZealand
3 Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, Dunedin School of Medicine, University of Otago, NewZealand

Correspondence Address:
David Welch
School of Population Health, University of Auckland Private Bag, 92019 Auckland, Auckland
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.113513

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Evidence is emerging linking environmental noise to health problems. Noise can affect health directly and indirectly: For example, noise sensitivity moderates the effects of noise annoyance, which in turn mediates the effects of noise exposure. An alternative hypothesis is that noise sensitivity marks the presence of susceptibility to health problems in general, including annoyance from noise. Whether noise sensitivity causes poor health or whether it is a marker of susceptibility to health problems was addressed by comparing the results of a community-based survey of people with similar noise sensitivity profiles but different environmental noise exposures. A questionnaire was delivered to people living in two socio-economically-matched areas: One was within 50 m of a motorway and the other was away from any significant source of environmental noise. The questionnaire contained 58 questions comprised of the World Health Organization health-related quality of life questionnaire (WHOQOL), and questions about amenity, neighborhood issues, environmental annoyances, demographics, and noise sensitivity. Noise sensitivity did not vary with proximity to the motorway but annoyance with traffic noise and fumes was greater in those living close to the motorway than in those who were not. Scores on the four WHOQOL domains (physical, psychological, social, and environmental) were lower in those living close to the motorway, and the WHOQOL domain scores correlated negatively with noise sensitivity in those who lived near motorways but not in those who lived in the quieter areas. This suggests that noise sensitivity is related to poor health outcomes rather than being a trait marker of susceptibility to health problems in general.


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