The Longitudinal Relationship between Speech Recognition in Noise, Need for Recovery after Work, Job Demand, and Job Control over a Period of 5 Years

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Abstract

Objective: Hearing impairment may lead to an increased need to recover from fatigue and distress after a day of work. Also, hearing impairment may negatively affect the balance between workload and control over it (job demand and job control). The uptake of hearing solutions may have a positive effect on these outcomes. We aimed to assess the longitudinal relationship between change in speech recognition in noise and changes in need for recovery after work and job demand and job control, and the influence of hearing solutions on these relationships over a period of 5 years. Research questions (RQs) were as follows: (1) Is a 5-year change in speech recognition in noise associated with a change in need for recovery after work over that same 5-year period?; (2) Is a 5-year change in speech recognition in noise associated with a change in job demand and job control over that same 5-year period?; (3) What is the effect of hearing solution uptake in the 5-year period on the change in these outcomes in that same 5-year period? Method: Data of the Netherlands Longitudinal Study on Hearing, collected between 2006 and January 2019, were divided into two 5-year follow-up intervals: T0 (baseline) to T1 (5-year follow-up) and T1 (5-year follow-up) to T2 (10-year follow-up). An online digit-triplet in noise test was used to assess speech recognition in noise. Online questionnaires on demographic, socioeconomic, and work-related characteristics were administered. For RQ1-RQ2, the study sample included adults working ≥12 hours per week, with at least two consecutive measurements (n = 783). For RQ3, employees who had not yet obtained hearing solutions at baseline, but who would be eligible based on a speech reception threshold in noise ≥ -5.5 dB signal-to-noise ratio (SNR), were included (n = 147). Longitudinal linear regression analyses using mixed models were performed to assess RQ1-RQ3. Results: After adjusting for baseline values, 5-year change in speech recognition in noise showed a statistically significant association with 5-year change in need for recovery. A worsening of 1 dB SNR in speech recognition in noise in an individual was associated with an increase of 0.72 units in need for recovery (scale range 0 to 100). A 5-year change in speech recognition in noise was not significantly associated with a 5-year change in job demand or job control. The uptake of hearing solutions in the 5-year period did not have a significant effect on change in need for recovery in that same 5-year period. Conclusion: The significant longitudinal association between 5-year worsening in speech recognition in noise and increase in need for recovery over the same time period strengthens the evidence for the importance of early detection of a worsening in speech recognition in noise to identify employees with an increase in need for recovery. The absence of an effect of the uptake of a hearing solution on need for recovery indicates that additional alternative interventions may be needed to foster beneficial use of hearing solutions as well as to mitigate the increased need for recovery in case of worsening speech recognition in noise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)659-668
Number of pages10
JournalEar and Hearing
Volume43
Issue number2
Early online date6 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Mar 2022

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