A comparison of the military entrance processing station screening audiogram with the defense occupational and environmental health readiness system reference audiogram at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 2000

David W. Niebuhr*, John D. Completo, Thomas M. Helfer, David W. Chandler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The Department of Defense Hearing Conservation Program requires that a reference audiogram be performed at initial entry training (IET), before noise exposure. In the Army, only Fort Sill, home of the field artillery, and Fort Benning, home of the infantry, are in compliance. All military applicants receive a screening audiogram at a military entrance processing station (MEPS) to qualify for service. This audiogram does not meet the Defense Occupational and Environmental Health Readiness System-Hearing Conservation (DOEHRS-HC) standard. Nevertheless, it has been proposed that the MEPS screen be used as the reference because of limited resources and time during IET medical in-processing. Methods: A total of 11,816 individual reference audiograms performed at Fort Sill 95th Adjutant General Recruit Reception Center in 2000 were identified in the DOEHRS-HC database. Results of the MEPS screening audiograms were found for 11,311 (96%) of these individuals. The two audiograms were compared by frequency and ear and by using the two Department of Defense criteria for threshold shift. Results: A total of 14.49% (95% confidence interval, 14.48-14.50%) of audiograms using the three-frequency average difference and 23.19% (95% confidence interval, 23.18-23.20%) using the four-frequency difference in either ear demonstrated a threshold shift. The mean difference in intensity between the two audiograms ranged from 5 to 12 dB and varied by frequency and ear, with the greatest differences being seen at 500 and 6,000 kHz and in the left ear, compared with the right ear. The mean threshold level was higher for each frequency in the DOEHRS-HC audiogram, compared with the MEPS audiogram. Conclusions: Approximately 15% of soldiers at Fort Sill in 2000 showed a clinically significant threshold difference between their MEPS screening and the DOEHRS-HC baseline audiogram. Methodological variations in testing and interval noise-induced hearing loss could account for these differences. The results do not support the use of the MEPS screening audiogram as the reference audiogram. Compliance with the Hearing Conservation Program in the Army would require either improving MEPS testing to DOEHRS-HC standards or performing baseline audiograms at all five IET sites.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-121
Number of pages5
JournalMilitary Medicine
Volume171
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'A comparison of the military entrance processing station screening audiogram with the defense occupational and environmental health readiness system reference audiogram at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, in 2000'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this