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Assessing Hearing Conservation Program Effectiveness: Results of a Multisite Assessment

Rabinowitz, Peter MD, MPH; Cantley, Linda F. MS; Galusha, Deron MS; Trufan, Sally BS; Swersey, Arthur D.Eng.Sci; Dixon-Ernst, Christine MS, MA; Ramirez, Vickie BA; Neitzel, Richard PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: January 2018 - Volume 60 - Issue 1 - p 29–35
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000001125
Original Articles

Objectives: Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) remains one of the most prevalent occupational diseases. Occupational hearing conservation programs (HCPs) can reduce the risk of NIHL, but there remains no consensus on assessing HCP effectiveness. We conducted a multisite, mixed-method assessment of HCP programs.

Methods: At 13 manufacturing plants, we performed assessments, including interviews with program staff and worker focus groups and surveys. We analyzed the association between these assessments and age-corrected NIHL rates.

Results: Only a few items from the HCP staff interviews correlated with NIHL rates. For the employee survey, management commitment to NIHL prevention and being counseled about NIHL were strongly associated with NIHL rates.

Conclusion: Management commitment and counseling of workers about NIHL may be key factors in program effectiveness. A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods appears to be useful for assessing HCPs.

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Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington (Dr Rabinowitz, Ms Ramirez, Ms Trufan); Yale Occupational and Environmental Medicine Program, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut (Ms Cantley, Mr Galusha); Yale School of Management, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut (Mr Swersey); Otogienex, LLC, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Ms Dixon-Ernst); and Department of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan (Dr Neitzel).

Address correspondence to: Peter Rabinowitz, MD, MPH, Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 357234, Seattle, WA 98195-7234 (

Funding for this study was provided by NIOSH 5 R01 OH 010132-04 REV.

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

Supplemental digital contents are available for this article. Direct URL citation appears in the printed text and is provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Copyright © 2018 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine