Date of Award

2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts Honours

School

School of Psychology and Social Sciences

Faculty

Faculty of Computing, Health and Science

First Advisor

Dr Paul Chang

Abstract

Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), or hearing damage from regular exposure to loud noise, can profoundly affect a person's hearing capabilities and overall well-being. Many individuals continue to expose themselves to hazardous levels of noise, and, in turn, put themselves at risk of developing a NIHL. This review critically examines the existing literature presented on NIHL. Emphasis is placed on the increasing prevalence of NIHL in young adults from exposure to loud recreational noise. The effectiveness of current educational strategies that have been employed to reduce or prevent the occurrence of NIHL in this cohort is also examined. Research indicates that hearing conservation programs have generally been ineffective in encouraging healthier attitudes and behaviours towards the prevention of NIHL in young adults. Perhaps this is because most strategies have not allowed people to experience what a hearing loss feels and sounds like. A preliminary study by Brew (2005) investigated the effectiveness of audio simulations of hearing loss and tinnitus as a way to enhance the efficacy of an educational hearing campaign in young adults. Several methodological problems in the Brew (2005) study may have mitigated any significant improvements in participants' attitudes and behaviours. Given the potential benefits for audio simulations to convey a realistic experience of the dangers inherent with prolonged noise exposure, implications for future research are discussed. Brew (2005) investigated the effectiveness of audio simulations of hearing loss and tinnitus as a strategy for promoting healthier attitudes and behaviours towards noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) in young adults. Several methodological problems in Brew's (2005) study may have mitigated any significant improvements being found in participants' attitudes and behaviours. This study addressed these limitations to examine whether audio simulations together with an educational hearing message are more effective in improving young adults' attitudes, motivations, intentions, and fears towards NIHL compared to an education-only message without simulations. In Experiment 1, forty-five participants were randomly assigned to a Simulation, Education, or Control presentation. Participants completed a survey exploring their attitudes and behaviours towards NIHL pre- and post-presentation. An ANOVA conducted on the data revealed no significant improvements in the Simulation groups' motivations, attitudes, intentions, and fears towards NIHL compared to the Education group, though the results were in the anticipated direction. However, potential limitations regarding the insensitivity of the Likert scale used to measure changes in people's responses may have mitigated any significant effects being found. The purpose of Experiment 2 was to employ a more sensitive measurement procedure for directly comparing the effectiveness of the Simulation versus the Education group. Ten different participants viewed both the Simulation and Education presentations, followed by completing a survey asking which presentation was more effective. Chi-square analyses conducted on the data found that a significant proportion (90%) of participants selected the Simulation presentation as being more effective in improving their motivations, attitudes, intentions, and fears towards NIHL compared to the Education presentation. The results confirmed the effectiveness of including audio simulations as an alternative educational strategy for significantly augmenting the persuasiveness of a hearing conservation message.

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