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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 74  |  Page : 34--42

Hearing loss associated with US military combat deployment

1 Advanced Analytics Optum, Ann Arbor, MI, San Diego, CA, USA
2 Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, CA; Epidemiologic Research and Information Center, VA Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA, USA
3 Naval Hospital Camp Pendleton, San Diego, CA, USA
4 Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD, USA
5 Naval Health Research Center, San Diego, CA, USA
6 Epidemiologic Research and Information Center, VA Puget Sound Health Care System; Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, USA

Correspondence Address:
Timothy S Wells
1839 Waverly Road, Holt, Michigan
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Source of Support: This research represents Naval Health Research Center report 13-59, supported by the Department of Defense, under work unit no. 60002. The Millennium Cohort Study is funded through the Military Operational Medicine Research Program of the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command, Fort Detrick, Maryland., Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.149574

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The objective of this study was to define the risk of hearing loss among US military members in relation to their deployment experiences. Data were drawn from the Millennium Cohort Study. Self-reported data and objective military service data were used to assess exposures and outcomes. Among all 48,540 participants, 7.5% self-reported new-onset hearing loss. Self-reported hearing loss showed moderate to substantial agreement (k = 0.57-0.69) with objective audiometric measures. New-onset hearing loss was associated with combat deployment (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.63, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.49-1.77), as well as male sex and older age. Among deployers, new-onset hearing loss was also associated with proximity to improvised explosive devices (AOR = 2.10, 95% CI = 1.62-2.73) and with experiencing a combat-related head injury (AOR = 6.88, 95% CI = 3.77-12.54). These findings have implications for health care and disability planning, as well as for prevention programs.


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