A Hearing Loss Prevention Outreach Program for Farmers and Motorsports Enthusiasts: Interventional Audiology: Moving from Concept to Practice
Many farmers and motorsports enthusiasts in rural areas attend tractor pulls, which are loud motorsport competitions using tractors and trucks with powerful, modified engines. The high noise levels experienced by farmers and motorsports fans in their recreational and occupational activities are not addressed by traditional hearing conservation programs. The University of Wisconsin-Madison audiology group has established an annual hearing loss prevention outreach project at the Dairyland Super National Truck and Tractor Pull in Tomah, Wisconsin. The objectives of the outreach are to provide hearing protection to those at the tractor pull, to document tractor pull noise levels, and to encourage tractor pull attendees to use hearing protection at work and in their other recreational activities. This study establishes that hearing loss prevention outreach at tractor pulls is necessary due to the high noise levels during the competitions. The number of earplugs distributed and the percentage of individuals who accept them indicates that this outreach is effective in the short term. It is yet to be determined if this type of hearing loss prevention project can create long-term shifts in cultural attitudes about rural noise and lead to increased hearing protection usage in the occupational and recreational lives of tractor pull attendees.