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Hearing Loss, Earplug Use, and Attitudes to Hearing Protection Among Non-Orchestral Ensemble Musicians

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This study surveys non-orchestral musicians playing in pipe, jazz, concert, wind, or brass bands regarding their perceived risk of music-induced hearing damage, rates of self-reported hearing loss, and use of earplugs and acoustic screens while playing in an ensemble. A questionnaire was administered to 257 Australian band musicians and the data were compared to responses obtained previously from 367 orchestral musicians. The results showed that band and orchestral musicians had similar rates of self-reported hearing loss, but band musicians were significantly less likely to perceive risk or to use protective equipment. Among the band types, pipe band musicians had the highest incidence of hearing loss, greatest awareness of risk, and highest rates of earplug use. In contrast, brass band musicians demonstrated poor risk awareness and a reluctance to use protective equipment. The authors recommend the education of band musicians and hearing care providers regarding available earplug technology as well as the continued development of earplugs optimized for musicians.

JAES Volume 64 Issue 3 pp. 132-137; March 2016
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AES - Audio Engineering Society