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Hearing Difficulty Attributable to Employment by Industry and Occupation: An Analysis of the National Health Interview Survey—United States, 1997 to 2003

Tak, SangWoo ScD, MPH; Calvert, Geoffrey M. MD, MPH

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2008 - Volume 50 - Issue 1 - p 46-56
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e3181579316
Original Articles

Objective: To estimate the national burden of hearing difficulty among workers in US industries and occupations.

Methods: Data on 130,102 employed National Health Interview Survey respondents between the ages of 18 to 65 years who were interviewed between 1997 and 2003 were analyzed to estimate the population prevalence, adjusted prevalence ratios, and fractions of hearing difficulty attributable to employment.

Results: The estimated population prevalence of hearing difficulty was 11.4% (24% attributable to employment). The adjusted prevalence ratios of hearing difficulty were highest for railroads, mining, and primary metal manufacturing industry. Occupations with increased risk of hearing difficulty were mechanics/repairers, machine operators, and transportation equipment operators.

Conclusions: Hearing difficulty was differentially distributed across various industries. In industries with high rates, employers and workers should take preventive action to reduce the risk of occupational hearing loss.

From the Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluations, and Field Studies (Drs Tak and Calvert), National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Cincinnati, Ohio; and Epidemic Intelligence Service (Dr Tak), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Ga.

The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Address correspondence to: SangWoo Tak, ScD, MPH, Surveillance Branch, Division of Surveillance, Hazard Evaluation, and Field Studies, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, 4676 Columbia Parkway, R-17, Cincinnati, OH 45226; E-mail:

©2008The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine