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Friday, February 8 • 1:30pm - 1:50pm
The Department of Defense Comprehensive Hearing Health Program: A Precision Medicine Initiative Study

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The Comprehensive Hearing Health Program of the Department of Defense Hearing Center of Excellence (HCE) aims to reduce hearing injury through Education, Protection, and Monitoring. Hazardous noise pervades military operations, and tinnitus and hearing loss are the top two service-connected disabilities. HCE developed educational materials covering topics like: causes of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), hazardous noise sources, and exposure reduction. Educational needs may differ among individuals because NIHL risks vary with exposure, individual behaviors, and genetics. Therefore, HCE aims to develop education, customizable to individual needs. The Precision Medicine Initiative study quantifies current educational impacts, and characterizes three precision preventive medicine elements: 1) knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors (KABB), 2) noise exposures, and 3) genetic susceptibility. Hearing-related KABBs were surveyed before and after education, and at three months. Audiometric tests and saliva samples were collected for genetic analysis of NIHL biomarkers. Seven-day total-noise exposure was measured in a subcohort via diaries and wearable dosimeters. Analyses will identify knowledge gaps, classify groups by exposure, explore genetic biomarkers of NIHL, and discuss future development of a combined factors NIHL risk-profile matrix to inform the development of tailored health education materials and delivery strategy.


John A. Merkley AuD, CCC-A, CPS/A

U.S. Army Public Health Center

Julieta Scalo

DoD Hearing Center of Excellence / zCore Business Solutions


Friday February 8, 2019 1:30pm - 1:50pm PST
Grapevine A