Hearing loss, work and societal costs: a longitudinal population study

Project managerBernt Bratsberg
ClientNFR via STAMI
Client project no.301426
ParticipantsBernt Bratsberg
Period2019 - 2023

Project description

About 10% of the population have a hearing loss that hampers communication, and the percentage increases to 40% among individuals older than 65 years. The country faces the challenge of an ageing population, and as people work longer, they are more likely to develop hearing loss while employed. This may involve large consequences for work capacity. There is a need of a large longitudinal population hearing study that adequately control for confounders, to determine the impact of hearing loss on work-life and societal costs, which is important for employers and policymakers when assessing the need for vocational rehabiltation.

Similarly, little is known on socioeconomic inequalities in hearing loss and use of hearing aids. Initiatives to detect hearing loss early and increase the use of hearing aids may provide public health benefits and reduce socioeconomic inequalities in health. Finally, we aim to assess the trends on occupation and hearing loss, which will provide important feedback to employers and policy-makers about whether the preventive measures during the last two decades has provided better hearing.

Our project is unique in terms of two large cross-sectional hearing studies; one recent (HUNT4hearing) and the other performed 20 years ago (HUNT2hearing). So far, HUNT2 hearing has resulted in 40 scientific papers. Together they will form the world’s largest longitudinal hearing study with data on hearing threshold, risk factors and consequences for an estimated 8,000 participants. This provides the opportunity to study change in the impact of hearing loss on work-life over the last two decades, and will provide valid and precise estimates. The study has statistical power to identify possible vulnerable groups.

The data collection is finished, other variables have been ordered, the study is approved by REK and has a DPIA. We apply for one PhD candidate who will be part of our strong interdisciplinary research team.


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