Economic Impact of Hearing Loss and Reduction of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the United States Purpose Hearing loss (HL) is pervasive and debilitating, and noise-induced HL is preventable by reducing environmental noise. Lack of economic analyses of HL impacts means that prevention and treatment remain a low priority for public health and environmental investment. Method This article estimates the costs of HL on ... Research Article
Research Article  |   January 01, 2017
Economic Impact of Hearing Loss and Reduction of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the United States
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Richard L. Neitzel
    University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor
  • Tracy K. Swinburn
    University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor
  • Monica S. Hammer
    University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor
  • Daniel Eisenberg
    University of Michigan School of Public Health, Ann Arbor
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Richard L. Neitzel: rneitzel@umich.edu
  • Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray
    Editor: Nancy Tye-Murray×
  • Associate Editor: Kathleen Cienkowski
    Associate Editor: Kathleen Cienkowski×
Article Information
Hearing Disorders / Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   January 01, 2017
Economic Impact of Hearing Loss and Reduction of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss in the United States
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, January 2017, Vol. 60, 182-189. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-15-0365
History: Received October 23, 2015 , Revised April 19, 2016 , Accepted June 13, 2016
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, January 2017, Vol. 60, 182-189. doi:10.1044/2016_JSLHR-H-15-0365
History: Received October 23, 2015; Revised April 19, 2016; Accepted June 13, 2016

Purpose Hearing loss (HL) is pervasive and debilitating, and noise-induced HL is preventable by reducing environmental noise. Lack of economic analyses of HL impacts means that prevention and treatment remain a low priority for public health and environmental investment.

Method This article estimates the costs of HL on productivity by building on established estimates for HL prevalence and wage and employment differentials between those with and without HL.

Results We estimate that HL affects more than 13% of the working population. Not all HL can be prevented or treated, but if the 20% of HL resulting from excessive noise exposure were prevented, the economic benefit would be substantial—we estimate a range of $58 billion to $152 billion annually, with a core estimate of $123 billion. We believe this is a conservative estimate, because consideration of additional costs of HL, including health care and special education, would likely further increase the benefits associated with HL prevention.

Conclusion HL is costly and warrants additional emphasis in public and environmental health programs. This study represents an important first step in valuing HL prevention—in particular, prevention of noise-induced HL—where new policies and technologies appear promising.

Acknowledgment
We gratefully acknowledge the University of Michigan School of Public Health Risk Science Center for their support of this work.
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