Predicting Use of Hearing Protection: A Preliminary Study


  • Sally Lechlitner Lusk Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Sally Lechlitner Lusk is associate professor, Director, Occupational Health Nursing, School of Nursing, University of Michigan.
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  • Marilyn J. Kelemen R.N.

    1. Marilyn J. Kelemen is Administrative Manager, Occupational, Environmental, and Preventive Medicine Division, Employee Health Services, Henry Ford Hospital and Medical Centers.
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*Address correspondence to Sally L. Lusk, Ph.D., University of Michigan School of Nursing, 400 North Ingalls, Room 3180, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-0482.


Abstract The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health targeted noise-induced hearing loss as one of the top 10 occupational hazards. Research has been directed toward reducing noise exposure rather than identifying the factors associated with workers' decision consistently to use hearing protection. The long-term goal of this program of research is to develop a causal model explaining workers' use of hearing protection to guide development of nursing interventions. This study was a preliminary one to prepare for testing Pender's health-promotion model (HPM) as a causal model. Ninety-eight skilled tradesmen completed written questionnaires at their work site. Although 98% indicated they were supposed to wear protection, their reported use averaged 50.3% of the time. Reported use significantly and positively correlated with workers' perceptions of the benefits and self-efficacy of use, value of outcomes regarding keeping out noise and increased well-being, and health-promoting behaviors in the areas of self-actualization and stress management. Perceptions of barriers of use were significantly and negatively related to use. In regression analyses of use of hearing protection on components of the HPM and dimensions of health behavior and lifestyle, one component of the HPM (benefits) and two dimensions of health behavior and lifestyle (self-actualization and interpersonal support) significantly predicted use, accounting for 24% of the variance in use of protection. Knowledge of the predictors of hearing protection use will ultimately aid nurses in implementing interventions, increasing use, and decreasing hearing losses.