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Improved Data Collection

There are national surveys on hearing loss, but they are typically very simplified, yes/no question to responders. There are several statewide surveys that do not focus on hearing loss. Many of the goals within our Age-Related Hearing Loss (ARHL) strategic plan require us to provide data to stakeholders to demonstrate why focusing on healthy aging and hearing loss is important. We determined that we needed to improve data collection to support our mission by asking more specific questions about the age when hearing loss began, if and when responders went to their doctor for help, and additional data that will help us to understand what hearing loss looks like and what barriers people face when they try to get help.

Existing statewide surveys such as the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (a combined effort between the federal Center for Disease Control agency and the State of Minnesota’s Department of Health), the University of Minnesota’s Center for Survey Research, and surveys like the American Community Survey either offer minimal data or do not address hearing loss at all.

We also wanted to know which industries or occupations are more likely to submit a workers’ compensation claim, an onsite injury claim, or to experience hearing loss at a faster than expected rate.

Who this impacts

  • Minnesotans who identify as deaf, deafblind or hard of hearing
  • People who may have Age-Related Hearing Loss (ARHL)
  • Researchers within the Minnesota Department of Health
  • Public health officials
  • Current and future legislators

Solution

Starting in 2017, we began the process of contracting with the Minnesota Department of Health to add seven questions to their Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) survey. The BRFSS is a year-long survey, which means the data collected throughout 2018 will be published in 2019. We also contracted with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Survey Research to add seven questions to their survey. The results of their survey were published in the first half of 2018.

By working with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry and the federal Bureau of Labor and Statistics, we were able to collect significant data at the industry and occupational level. And more is coming!

We can identify critical trends in Minnesota, such as:

  • Men are approximately twice as likely to experience age-related hearing loss. 
  • Most occupational hearing loss cases are in manufacturing and manufacturing has the highest incidence rate when compared to other sectors.
  • 30% of all respondents said they had little, moderate, or a lot of trouble hearing.

And we look forward to analyzing the BRFSS data in the calendar year 2019 for more insights!

Who was involved

  • Age-Related Hearing Loss Task Force members
  • Minnesota Department of Health (conducted a survey)
  • Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (helped us collected existing data)
  • University of Minnesota’s Center for Survey Research (conducted a survey)
  • Minnesota’s Management, Analysis and Development (survey question design and data analysis)
  • Minnesota Commission of the Deaf, DeafBlind & Hard of Hearing (MNCDHH)
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