In a group of 1,058 EMS professionals, 14.9% reported to have hearing problems. In this group 213 (20.8%) individuals reported utilizing some form of hearing protection at their main EMS job. These are the first US national estimates of the prevalence of self reported hearing problems and self-reported utilization of hearing protection among EMS professionals.
Hearing problems among a cohort of nationally certified EMS professionals
Antonio R. Fernandez, MS, NREMT-P, J. Mac Crawford, PhD, Jonathan R. Studnek, PhD, NREMT-P , J.R. Wilkins III, BCE, DrPH
American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published online 16 Dec 2009
The objectives of this study were to estimate the prevalence of hearing problems among a national cohort of emergency medical service (EMS) professionals, determine factors associated with hearing problems, and estimate the percentage of EMS professionals who utilize hearing protection.
Utilizing results from a questionnaire, individuals who reported hearing problems were compared to individuals who had not. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to identify variables associated with hearing problems. Finally, items regarding use of hearing protection were assessed to estimate the percentage of usage among EMS professionals.
In total, 1,058 (57%) participants responded to the questionnaire. Of those, 1,024 (97%) who completed the hearing problems question were utilized for analysis. There were 153 (14.9%) cases of self-reported hearing problems. The final logistic regression model included lifetime occupational noise exposure 0.99 (95% CI = 0.9997-1.0002), report of previous back problems (odds ratio (OR) = 2.74, 95% CI = 1.8340-4.1042), large community size (OR = 1.67, 95% CI = 1.1211-2.4843), and minority status (OR = 0.61, 95% CI = 0.3719-0.9867). Finally, 213 (20.8%) individuals reported utilizing some form of hearing protection at their main EMS job.
The results from this analysis are the first national estimates of the prevalence of self reported hearing problems among EMS professionals. This study was also the first to estimate the percentage of EMS professionals who self reported the utilization of hearing protection.