HEARING LOSS PREVENTION
Inputs: NIOSH Strategic Goals
The NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Program is in the process of developing "strategic goals" to guide NIOSH's research and partnership efforts over the next decade. Hearing loss was previously one of the NIOSH priority topic areas established to guide research efforts. The application of strategic goals takes this approach a step further by identifying specific outcomes that we want to target, performance measures for evaluating progress in meeting outcome goals, and intermediate goals to describe the necessary steps that need to be performed to accomplish each strategic goal. Setting goals is challenging because:
- It forces us to focus on a subgroup of issues where we think NIOSH can make an impact: a long list would spread our resources too thin to accomplish the goals. Not every worthwhile topic can be included.
- It is difficult to develop performance measures. Available injury statistics have limitations, and exposure and health outcome measures are typically not available.
- It is ambitious for NIOSH to set goals to achieve outcomes such as a national reduction in work-related hearing loss. NIOSH is a research agency, so we don't often directly influence outcomes; we must partner well and influence other groups to show results.
NIOSH Program Portfolio Approach
NIOSH has been organizing research, guidance, information, and service efforts into specific programs that can be readily communicated and strategically governed and evaluated. Eight NORA Sector Programs represent industrial sectors, and twenty-four Cross-sector Programs organized around adverse health outcomes, statutory programs and global efforts.
The NORA Sector Programs intersect with Cross-Sector Programs in a matrix-like fashion. For example, an Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing Program goal of reducing farm-related deaths and injuries due to tractor rollovers and trucks would likely be a shared goal with the Transportation Program and if appropriate would be adopted by both programs. This approach provides an added advantage and will allow multiple Programs to work towards accomplishment of intersecting goals.
Each of the 32 programs in the NIOSH Program Portfolio has a Manager and Coordinator. Each of the 8 NIOSH Sector Programs facilitates the work of a NORA Sector Council to engage external stakeholders in the process of developing sector goals for the nation and methods to measure the short-term, intermediate and long-term outcomes arising from those goals. The NORA goals for the nation will be considered when choosing NIOSH sector program goals. Cross Sector programs have internal Steering Committees that develop program goals and monitor outcome measures.
These planning efforts will position NIOSH to align with the most current governmental approaches for evaluating program effectiveness, i.e., the Program Assessment Rating Tool (or PART). PART is a mechanism to hold governmental agencies accountable for accomplishing results. As part of our comprehensive approach to performance measurement, NIOSH has engaged the National Academies to independently evaluate our sector and cross-programs for relevance and impact.
The Hearing Loss Prevention Program was among the first programs selected by NIOSH to be reviewed by the National Academies. The results of this review were released in September, 2006. For additional information about the NA review of this Program and the NIOSH input to the NA review, go to the following websites:
Hearing Loss Prevention Program Goals
Currently, the NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Program conducts research in support of four research areas:
- Contribute to the development, implementation, and evaluation of effective hearing loss prevention programs.
- Reduce hearing loss through interventions targeting personal protective equipment.
- Develop engineering controls to reduce noise exposures.
- Improve understanding of occupational hearing loss through surveillance and investigation of risk factors.
The recently completed National Academies review of the NIOSH Hearing Loss Research Program provided useful feedback that will enable NIOSH to improve upon the Hearing Loss Prevention Program research efforts. NIOSH is using the results of the National Academies program review to draft updated strategic goals for the Hearing Loss Prevention Program. As required by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), these strategic goals will be organized by outcomes such as injuries and illnesses instead of more general goals such as eliminating all occupational hearing loss.
NIOSH is interested in your opinions about the relevance and value of strategic goals for the Hearing Loss Prevention Program. We encourage you to consider partnering with us on issues of interest to you and your organization. When a draft of updated goals for the NIOSH Hearing Loss Prevention Program is completed, it will be posted here for review and comment. We will also use the NIOSH eNews to announce that draft goals are available for review.
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