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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 17  |  Issue : 79  |  Page : 394--405

Attitudes toward noise, perceived hearing symptoms, and reported use of hearing protection among college students: Influence of youth culture

1 Environmental Health Sciences Program, Department of Health Education and Promotion, College of Health and Human Performance, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA
2 Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina, USA

Correspondence Address:
Jo Anne G Balanay
3407 Carol Belk Building, 300 Curry Court, Greenville, North Carolina - 27858
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1463-1741.169701

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The purpose of this study was to assess the attitude toward noise, perceived hearing symptoms, noisy activities that were participated in, and factors associated with hearing protection use among college students. A 44-item online survey was completed by 2,151 college students (aged 17 years and above) to assess the attitudes toward noise, perceived hearing symptoms related to noise exposure, and use of hearing protection around noisy activities. Among the participants, 39.6% experienced at least one hearing symptom, with ear pain as the most frequently reported (22.5%). About 80% of the participants were involved in at least one noise activity, out of which 41% reported the use of hearing protection. A large majority of those with ear pain, hearing loss, permanent tinnitus, and noise sensitivity was involved in attending a sporting event, which was the most reported noisy activity. The highest reported hearing protection use was in the use of firearms, and the lowest in discos/ dances. The reported use of hearing protection is associated with having at least one hearing symptom but the relationship is stronger with tinnitus, hearing loss, and ear pain (χ 2 = 30.5-43.5, P< 0.01) as compared to noise sensitivity (χ 2 = 3.8, P= 0.03); it is also associated with anti-noise attitudes, particularly in youth social events. Universities and colleges have important roles in protecting young adults' hearing by integrating hearing conservation topic in the college curriculum, promoting hearing health by student health services, involving student groups in noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) awareness and prevention, and establishing noise level limitations for all on-campus events.


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