Hearing Research - Current Insights

Posted: January 12, 2022

  • Researchers at The Center for the Promotion of Health in the New England Workplace, a NIOSH Center of Excellence for Total Worker Health®, recently designed a hearing conservation intervention, HearWell, based on their new Healthy Workplace Participatory Program. HearWell uses worker participation in the form of design teams as part of a Total Worker Health approach to workplace safety and health. The goals of this intervention were to increase hearing protection device use and improve the so-called “hearing climate,” which includes supervisor and coworker support for using the devices. Results of a pilot program with transportation highway workers indicate that HearWell shows promising results for improving hearing protection use in the workplace. 

Cavallari JM, Suleiman AO, Garza JL, Namazi S, Dugan AG, Henning RA, Punnett L. (2021). Evaluation of the HearWell Pilot Program: A Participatory Total Worker Health® Approach to Hearing Conservation. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Sep 10;18(18):9529. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18189529.

  • Researchers at four universities collaborated to review the relationship between noise exposure, selected health conditions, and well-being among nurses. They analyzed data obtained from surveys of over 3800 nurses regarding noise exposure, health conditions, stress, professional quality of life, and workplace support. They found that nurses who reported high noise exposure in the workplace also reported more health conditions, higher stress and burnout scores, and lower supportive environments. High noise exposure was significantly associated with lower professional quality of life.
McCullagh MC, Xu J, Dickson VV, Tan A, Lusk SL (2021). Noise Exposure and Quality of Life Among Nurses. Workplace Health & Safety. December 2021. doi:10.1177/21650799211044365
  • Speech-in-noise tests and suprathreshold auditory evoked potentials are considered potentially promising biomarkers for diagnosing cochlear synaptopathy in humans. Ghent University studied a small group of young adults to determine if these biomarkers changed after a discrete recreational noise exposure event, a 5-day music festival. They found individual variability in pre-festival test results, but did not observe significant changes related to noise exposure from the recreational event. Additional study is recommended.
Vande Maele T, Keshishzadeh S,  De Poortere N, Dhooge I, Keppler H, Verhulst S (2021). The variability in potential biomarkers for cochlear synaptopathy after recreational noise exposure. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 64(12); 4964-4981. doi: 10.1044/2021_JSLHR-21-00064
  • In an NIH-funded animal study (chinchillas), researchers attempted to determine effective preloading timepoints for D-methionine (D-met) for protection against steady state and impulse noise. Data were collected on ABR thresholds and cochlear and serum antioxidant measures. Results indicated that the optimal D-met preloading start time window is earlier for steady state (3.5–2.5 days) than impulse noise (3–2 days). For steady state and impulse noise exposure, significant threshold shift protection occurred at all test frequencies for these start times.

Campbell K, Cosenza N, Meech R, Buhnerkempe M, Qin J, Rybak L, et al. (2021) Preloaded D-methionine protects from steady state and impulse noise-induced hearing loss and induces long-term cochlear and endogenous antioxidant effects. PLoS ONE 16(12). doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0261049