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Michigan Farmers Needed For Hearing Loss Survey

High blood pressure, heart disease and a decline in mental heath have all been found to be attributed to noise exposure.

According to the National Ag Safety Database, farmers and ag workers can experience substantial hearing loss by the time they’re 30. Researchers at the University of Michigan are trying to understand the behaviors of farmers not wearing hearing protection.

“Normally when we talk to people about hearing protection, we inform people of the statistics or what they could suffer from,” says Keane Trautner, Doctor of Nursing Practice Student at U of M. “We find that’s not very effective. People know noise exposure will eventually lead to hearing loss and for whatever reason, sometimes knowledge doesn’t turn into action.”

The researchers are using a technique called motivational interviewing address the barriers regarding not wearing hearing protection.

“This has been used in all sorts of different fields and has been successful at getting to the root of the problem and making effective change,” says Trautner. “A lot of the farmers I’ve talked to already are great about wearing hearing protection on the job, but then don’t want to wear it so much when they’re riding an ATV.”

This study is limited to Michigan-based participants who farm at least part time, can use the phone and have internet access. For those that make it through the process, there’s a $30 financial incentive.

“We currently don’t have any way of reversing the effects of hearing loss and there’s no treatment for tinnitus, which is ringing in the ears,” says Trautner. “We feel as though a lot of health problems can be prevented by addressing noise exposure. This is a great way to see if our tool works for that. If so, we could potentially change the way that we talk to farmers about hearing protection.”

Interviews can take place in November or December, at your convenience. If you’re interested in learning more and participating in this research, check out the information below, or you can email Trautner at keanelee@umich.edu.