The role of audiometry in the prevention of occupational deafness

  • Robert John Merriman

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The research set out to test three main hypotheses derived from a summary of literature relevant to the use of audiometry in industry. These hypotheses were: (1) performing audiometry increases the probability that hearing protectors, once issued, will be worn; (2) audiometry is considered by workers to be evidence of their employer's concern for their welfare; (3) audiometry is associated with common law claims by workers against employers for alleged occupational deafness. Six subsidiary hypotheses were also developed. Four methods of data collection were used: (1) attitude questionnaires were
administered to samples of workers drawn from an industrial company
performing audiometry and two industrial companies not performing
audiometry; (2) a postal questionnaire was sent out to industrial medical officers; (3) surveys were undertaken to assess the proportion of the workforce in each of eight industrial companies that was wearing personal hearing protectors that had been provided; (4) structured interviews were carried out with relevant management level personnel in each of five industrial companies. Factor analysis was the main statistical analytic technique used. The data supported all three main hypotheses.
Audiometry was also examined as an example of medical screening procedure.
It was argued that the validation of medical screening procedures requires the satisfaction of attitudinal or motivational validation criteria in addition to the biological and economic criteria currently used. It was concluded that industrial audiometry failed to satisfy such attitudinal or motivational criteria and so
should not be part of a programme of screening for occupational deafness. It was also concluded that industrial audiometry may be useful in creating awareness, amongst workers, of occupational deafness.
It was argued that the only profitable approach to investigating the role of audiometry in preventing occupational deafness is to study the attitudes and perceptions of everyone involved.
Date of AwardOct 1977
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorG.R.C. Atherley (Supervisor)


  • attutude
  • audiometry
  • hearing protectore
  • screening

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