A randomised controlled trial of screening for adult hearing loss during preventive health checks

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  • B Karlsmose, Denmark
  • T Lauritzen
  • M Engberg, Denmark
  • A Parving, Denmark
  • Institute of General Medical Practice
BACKGROUND: Prophylactic strategies to counter acquired hearing impairment may involve routine audiometric screening of asymptomatic working-age adults attending general practice for regular health checks. AIM: To evaluate the effect of adult hearing screening on subsequent noise exposure and hearing. DESIGN OF STUDY: A randomised controlled population-based study of health checks and health discussions in general practice. SETTING: The project was initiated in the district of Ebeltoft, Aarhus county, Denmark. METHOD: Intervention group participants' hearing thresholds were determined audiometrically at 0.5, 1, 2, 3, and 4 kHz in each ear. Participants were advised to get their ears checked if the average hearing loss exceeded 20 dB hearing level (dBHL) in either ear. Noise avoidance was emphasised when thresholds exceeded 25 dBHL bilaterally at 4 kHz. Follow-up included questionnaires and audiometry. RESULTS: Hearing loss was observed among 18.9% of the study sample at baseline. At the five-year follow-up we recorded no significant differences between the control and the intervention groups regarding subjective or objective hearing, or exposure to occupational noise. However, there was a tendency towards reduction in exposure to leisure noise among intervention participants (P = 0.045). Approximately 20% reported hearing problems; 16.5% reported tinnitus-related complaints; 0.8% used hearing aids; 35.0% reported frequent noise exposure; and occluding wax was suspected in 2.1%. CONCLUSION: Preventive health checks with audiometry did not significantly affect hearing, but leisure noise exposure tended to become less frequent. The poor effect may be ascribed to inadequate audiological counselling or a higher priority to other advice, e.g. on cardiovascular risk or lifestyle.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBritish Journal of General Practice
Volume51
Issue466
Pages (from-to)351-5
Number of pages4
ISSN0960-1643
Publication statusPublished - 2001

    Research areas

  • Adult, Audiometry, Denmark, Family Practice, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Health Promotion, Hearing Loss, Noise-Induced, Hearing Tests, Humans, Life Style, Male, Mass Screening, Middle Aged, Prevalence, Questionnaires

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