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The use of personal hearing protection in hostile territory and the effect of health promotion activity: advice falling upon deaf ears
  1. Gareth H Jones1 and
  2. C R Pearson2
  1. 1Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery, Fairfield General Hospital, Bury, UK
  2. 2Defence Audiology Service, Institute of Naval Medicine, Gosport, Hampshire UK
  1. Correspondence to Surg Cdr C R Pearson, Defence Audiology Service, Institute of Naval Medicine, Crescent Rd, Gosport, Hampshire PO12 2DL, UK; chris.pearson{at}


Introduction Noise-induced hearing loss is a significant cause of morbidity among serving soldiers despite provision of a range of personal hearing protection (PHP) and education and training. It appears that soldiers are choosing to forego PHP. This audit aimed to evaluate the effect of health promotion activity on the use of hearing protection in hostile territory.

Method 46 dismounted infantry soldiers operating out of a forward operating base in Afghanistan during Op HERRICK 17 were directly observed in order to determine the rate of wearing PHP before and after health promotion activity.

Results In the initial phase, 39% of soldiers (range 16–74%) wore PHP in at least one ear, but following health promotion activity the rate fell to 12% (range 9–14%).

Conclusions The reduction in the wearing of PHP appears to have been because the perceived diminished threat of enemy contact was outweighed by any benefit of health promotion activity. Reasons for poor compliance were not investigated, but it appears that behavioural factors, and specifically, leadership at the smallest unit level, are important. These should be investigated and considered in the development of future PHP.

  • Afghan war, 2001 -
  • Choice behavior
  • Hearing loss, noise-induced
  • Ear protective devices
  • Management audit

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