Hearing loss associated with US military combat deployment

Timothy S. Wells*, Amber D. Seelig, Margaret A.K. Ryan, Jason M. Jones, Tomoko I. Hooper, Isabel G. Jacobson, Edward J. Boyko

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


The objective of this study was to define the risk of hearing loss among US military members in relation to their deployment experiences. Data were drawn from the Millennium Cohort Study. Self-reported data and objective military service data were used to assess exposures and outcomes. Among all 48,540 participants, 7.5% self-reported new-onset hearing loss. Self-reported hearing loss showed moderate to substantial agreement (k = 0.57-0.69) with objective audiometric measures. New-onset hearing loss was associated with combat deployment (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 1.63, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.49-1.77), as well as male sex and older age. Among deployers, new-onset hearing loss was also associated with proximity to improvised explosive devices (AOR = 2.10, 95% CI = 1.62-2.73) and with experiencing a combat-related head injury (AOR = 6.88, 95% CI = 3.77-12.54). These findings have implications for health care and disability planning, as well as for prevention programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-42
Number of pages9
JournalNoise and Health
Issue number74
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Combat disorders
  • hearing loss
  • military personnel


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