A Swiss study has analysed PLD listening habits among young people and the willingness to change their habits. The aim of the study was to identify modifiable factors that may influence listening habits.

The Swiss study concludes that individuals not contemplating changing their listening habits show a lack of knowledge, tend not to feel particularly at risk and do not see the benefits of preventive measures. Conversely, those considering a change perceive barriers (e.g. lack of information on how to act). Self-efficacy was shown to play an ambivalent role, according to the study.

Listening habits

On average, the respondents in the survey reported listening to music using PLDs (personal listening devices) more than five days per week with nearly half of them (42.3%) listening between one and two hours per day.

A clear majority of respondents (86.9%) compared their typical listening volume to a noise of 85 dB or lower. Almost half of the respondents reported having been asked by someone else to turn down the volume when listening to music using PLDs (46.2%).

Consequences of listening

More than half of the respondents reported already having experienced a ringing in their ears (tinnitus) at least once (54.4%) and almost two thirds (61.6%) reported having experienced it after listening to music using their PLDs.

Awareness and knowledge

Almost all of the participants in the study (95.4%) knew that listening with earphones/headphones at high volume may damage hearing, while around three out of four respondents knew that listening to sounds above 85 dB over a prolonged period of time can cause permanent damage (75.8%) and that the amount of time one listens to a sound affects how much damage it will cause (72.2%).

Thoughts about hearing loss

The study participants presented relatively low perceived susceptibility to hearing loss while at the same time perceiving the severity of hearing loss as quite high.

Readiness to change

Almost half of the respondents (43.1%) were categorized as being in the precontemplation stage, thus not intending to adopt safe listening measures in the foreseeable future. About one third of the sample (30.9%) were in the contemplation stage, namely intending to take action regarding safe listening relatively soon. Only about one out of four respondents (26%) were in the action stage, namely already doing something to listen safely.

Want more information

Overall, more than half of the respondents (54.9%) reported being interested in receiving information about safe listening and ways to prevent music induced hearing-loss (MIHL).  The term music-induced hearing loss (MIHL) has been introduced to describe a condition akin to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). However, unlike noise, which is considered an unwanted sound, exposure to music through PLDs is typically desired.

About the study

The study was based on an online survey among 1,019 individuals aged 18–35. The questionnaire was based on theories of behaviour change.  Slightly more than half of the sample was female (54.1%,) the mean age was 28 and the majority of the participants had a college education (51.8%).

The study “Awareness, attitudes, and beliefs about music-induced hearing loss: Towards the development of a health communication strategy to promote safe listening” was published in the journal Patient Education and Counseling in 2019.

Sources: Patient Education and Counseling and www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Skip to content