What will the program achieve?
Research Goal 4.2 - Characterize hearing ability in the general population through national databases
The 1999-2004 NHANES data will provide a national reference database of hearing thresholds in the general population, as well as from a completely non-noise-exposed sub-population. It will also be possible to stratify the data by demographics and other health and exposure variables, providing an opportunity to look for interactions between hearing ability and many other factors. NHANES is now a continuous survey and the HLR program is continuing to provide support for audiometric testing. During 2005-2006, participants aged 12-19 and those aged 70 and older are receiving hearing testing. This will provide data on hearing levels of young workers just entering the workforce, as well as on older employees working in semi-retirement. The hope is to keep audiometry as a permanent part of the NHANES program, periodically shifting the age range tested, so that an updated reference population will be available for a given age group every ten years or so.
The AGES and Fels studies will have utility as additional reference populations, as data sets that can be correlated with longitudinal history and medical information, and as a means of studying the influence of genetics on hearing ability. Because previous threshold data exists for the Fels participants and their relatives, that data will also be useful in evaluating the effect of genetics versus the effect of exposure on threshold progression.