Objective. Many adolescents and young adults consciously expose themselves to loud music for entertainment. We hypothesized that these individuals might not be aware that exposure to loud music could result in hearing loss. Furthermore, we wished to assess the feasibility of a web-based survey to collect health information from this group.
Methods. A 28-question survey was designed to target adolescents and young adults. The survey contained questions about views toward general health issues, including hearing loss, and was presented to random visitors at the MTV web site.
Results. In 3 days, 9693 web surveys were completed. Hearing loss was defined on a Likert scale as “a very big problem” by 8% of respondents compared with other health issues: sexually transmitted diseases, 50%; alcohol/drug use, 47%; depression, 44%; smoking, 45%; nutrition and weight issues, 31%; and acne, 18%. Notably, most respondents had experienced tinnitus or hearing impairment attending concerts (61%) and clubs (43%). Only 14% of respondents had used earplugs; however, many could be motivated to try ear protection if they were aware of the potential for permanent hearing loss (66%) or were advised by a medical professional (59%).
Conclusions. A majority of young adults have experienced tinnitus and hearing impairment after exposure to loud music. Fortunately, many of these individuals could be motivated to wear ear protection. This novel web-based survey technique rapidly generated a large database and is a feasible method to obtain health data from this group.