More to Lose? Noise-Risk Perceptions of Young Adults with Hearing Impairment

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This study investigated the attitudes and behaviors of young adults with hearing impairment (HI), in relation to leisure noise. It was hypothesized that young people with HI would have more negative perceptions of noise exposure than their peers with nonimpaired (normal) hearing (NH) and would engage more frequently in self-protective behaviors. Questionnaires were administered as part of a larger study of young Australians with: (1) preadult onset HI and (2) NH. Data from adults (age range 18 to 24 years; n = 79 with HI, n = 131 with NH) were selected for the current analysis. Attitudes data for HI and NH groups were compared using chi-square tests, and the reported use of hearing aids and personal hearing protectors (PHPs) in leisure environments was quantified. Most participants with HI and NH regarded leisure noise as a health hazard but rated their own noise-injury risk as lower than that of their peer group. The use of PHPs was low overall, and many participants with HI reported using hearing aids (switched on) during noisy leisure activities. An equal and substantial proportion of participants with HI and NH reported dislike and avoidance of loud activities. Systematic noise management in leisure environments would address noise-injury risk and also enhance social participation.

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