DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Hearing loss and tinnitus are prevalent in America, and noise exposure is a leading cause of hearing loss. This type of hearing loss is known as Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL). NIHL has negative impact on the quality of life of the affected individual, affecting physical and emotional functioning, social life, and employment. In addition, NIHL results in heavy social and economic burdens on families and communities from all ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Farmers are a group that is particularly high risk for NIHL, and is underserved by programs designed to limit that risk. They are among the most noise-exposed group of workers, and experience the second highest prevalence of NIHL among all occupational categories. In agriculture, 1.5 million workers (43.3%) report exposure to hazardous noise. Although use of hearing protection devices (HPDs) would protect them from NIHL, use among farmers is low. The purpose of this project is to compare the effectiveness of several approaches to influencing HPD use. The goals of this study are to further develop an intervention to promote farmers' use of HPDs, and compare the effectiveness of the developed intervention with two alternative approaches influencing HPD use behavior, delivered in various combinations. This study will determine if significant change in HPD use can be achieved in one-shot web-based or HPD-supply intervention. Results will determine the need for future program modification, e.g., inclusion of booster(s). This project will involve a partnership between the University Of Michigan School Of Nursing, a major farmer organization, and the Center for Health Communication Research to accomplish project aims. This RCT test of interventions is designed to determine the most effective approach to improving participants' HPD use. Results of this study will be used to inform future RTP studies to increase HPD use. Increased use of HPDs is expected to reduce rates of NIHL and other negative effects of high noise exposure, and improve quality of life in this high-risk and underserved group.
PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Although noise-induced hearing loss affects as much as 78% of farmers, and can be prevented with the use of hearing protection, the overwhelming majority of farmers does not use it (or use it too infrequently to be effective). This randomly-controlled trial of innovative web-based interventions is designed to determine the most effective approach to increase farmers' use of hearing protection. Consistent use of HPDs is expected to reduce rates of noise-induced hearing loss and other negative effects of high noise exposure, and improve quality of life in this high-risk and underserved group.