Despite the rising prevalence of acquired adolescent hearing loss, parents lack education on prevention strategies and few believe their adolescent is at risk, according to a study by Deepa L. Sekhar, M.D., M.Sc., of Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey, Pa., and colleagues.
One in six adolescents has high-frequency hearing loss, which is typically noise related and preventable, according to the study background. Parental participation can help with behavioral interventions, though little is known about adult perspectives regarding adolescent noise-induced hearing loss.
Researchers conducted an Internet-based survey in a nationally representative sample of 716 parents of 13- to 17-year-olds to determine their knowledge of adolescent hearing loss and willingness to help prevent it. The survey was conducted with the C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.
According to study results, 69 percent of parents had not spoken with their adolescent about noise exposure, mainly because of the perceived low risk, but more than 65 percent were willing to limit listening time to music and access to other excessively noisy situations to protect their adolescents’ hearing. Parents with more education and younger teenagers were also more likely to promote hearing-protective strategies, and those who understood factors that promote hearing damage (volume, time of exposure) were more likely to have discussed hearing loss with their adolescent.
“In conclusion, few parents believe that their teenager is at risk of hearing loss and most parents have a poor understanding of hazardous noise exposures for adolescents,” the authors note. “In designing adolescent hearing conservation programs, the results suggest that a focus on parents with lower educational attainment and younger teenagers may be helpful.”
(JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online November 21, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2013.5760.