The Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Oregon Hearing Research Center is studying noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus in the general population. From June, 2002 to May, 2011 the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI ) featured the Dangerous Decibels® exhibition. In one of the exhibits, the Listen Up! Hearing booth, visitors could have their hearing tested and answer questions about themselves and their recent noise exposures. More than 50,000 OMSI visitors agreed to participate in the study.
Visitors entered a sound-insulated chamber and put on the headphones provided. They were asked questions anonymously about themselves (age, gender, military servic, etc.) and about their exposure to a list of potentially hazardous sounds during the past year. They were asked if they had been around loud sounds that make their ears hurt or ring (tinnitus) during past year. They were also asked how often they used hearing protection (ear muffs or ear plugs) when around loud sounds during the past year. Following the questions, participants played a game that tested hearing ability at 4,000 Hz in each ear at intensities between 20 and 65 dBHL. Visitors who consented to have their results used in this study indicated so and the results were stored on a database. Results from those who declined to participate were not stored when the visitor completed the activity.
A validation study was done to insure the accuracy of the results. If a participant gave more than XX false positive results (responding without of a stimulus tone) during a test or if the participant stopped playing the game, their results were removed from the database.
This study was approved by the OHSU Institutional Review Board
The following charts show the results from the Listen Up! exhibit experiment at OMSI.