Purpose: A need exists to investigate the short-and long-term impact of noise exposures during and following military service on auditory health. Currently available questionnaires are limited in their ability to meet this need because of (a) inability to evaluate noise exposures beyond a limited time frame, (b) lack of consensus on scoring, (c) inability to assess impulse exposures (e.g., firearm use), (d) lack of a single questionnaire that assesses both military and nonmilitary exposures, and (e) lack of validity and reliability data. To address these limitations, the Lifetime Exposure to Noise and Solvents Questionnaire (LENS-Q) was developed. The purpose of this report is to describe the development and initial validation of the LENS-Q as a measure of self-reported noise exposure. Method: Six hundred ninety participants, consisting of current Service members and recently military-separated (within about 2.5 years) Veterans, completed the LENS-Q, additional study questionnaires, and comprehensive audiometric testing. Noise exposure scores were computed from LENS-Q responses using a simple scoring algorithm that distinguishes between different cumulative levels of exposure and allows for the inclusion of both continuous and impulse noise exposures. Results: The LENS-Q demonstrates good construct validity as evidenced by measures of hearing loss, tinnitus, and subjective hearing difficulties all increasing with an increase in noise exposure scores. A logistic regression, adjusting for age and sex, revealed that participants in the highest exposure group were 2.4–3.9 times more likely to experience hearing loss, 2.7–2.8 times more likely to experience tinnitus, and 3.0–3.7 times more likely to report hearing difficulties compared with individuals in the lowest exposure group. Conclusions: The LENS-Q captures noise exposure over an individual’s lifetime and provides an alternative scoring metric capable of representing exposure to both continuous and impulse noise. Findings suggest that the LENS-Q is a valuable tool for capturing and measuring both military and nonmilitary noise exposure.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Speech and Hearing