Change in Prevalence of Hearing Loss in U.S. Adolescents
Hearing loss in the United States has been shown to be on the rise — a 2008 survey found that 35 million Americans suffer from the partial or complete loss of the ability to hear. While some of this is due to the aging of the baby boomer generation, hearing loss among younger Americans has also increased.
A 2010 study by researchers from Harvard University and Vanderbilt University and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, “Change in Prevalence of Hearing Loss in U.S. Adolescents,” finds that the rate of hearing loss among U.S. adolescents has risen sharply in the past three decades.
The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,finds that:
- About one in every five Americans ages between 12 and 19 years old were found to experience some hearing loss in 2005-2006. This proportion was about 30% higher compared to the prevalence rate in 1988-1994.
- Teens from families living below the poverty line are more likely to suffer hearing loss.
- Males are significantly more likely to experience hearing loss compared to females.
- No significant difference in the prevalence of hearing loss by age or race/ethnicity.
The researchers note that hearing loss by adolescents can have significant implications on speech perception, self-image, social skills development and learning.
Prolonged exposure to loud music could be an important determinant to this rise in hearing loss, the researchers state. They suggest further research to determine other contributory factors as well as policies to mitigate the worsening of hearing loss among the young.
Tags: safety, technology, youth, poverty
Note to instructor: The suggested assignments are designed for flexibility. They can be used in whole or part and can be adapted to a particular task -- for example, the newswriting assignments could be applied to the writing of the headline, the lead, the nut graph or the full story. Material from the assignments could also be combined with other material, for example, in the writing of a background, feature or local-angle story.
Read the study titled "Change in Prevalence of Hearing Loss in U.S. Adolescents."
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
Read the study-related New York Times article titled "Childhood: Hearing Loss Grows Among Teenagers."
- Reporter's use of the study: Evaluate what the reporter chose to include and exclude from the study. Would the audience have acquired a clear understanding of the study's findings and limits from this article?
- Reporter's use of other material: Assess the material in the article that is not derived from the study. (for example: Does the reporter place the study in the context of other research and to what effect? Does the reporter include reactions to the study from other researchers or interested parties [e.g., political groups business leaders, or community members] and are their credentials or possible biases made clear?)
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.