The goal of this multiphased research is to develop methods to comprehensively determine the economic impact of hearing impairment and noise-induced hearing injury among active-duty U.S. Service Members.
Several steps were undertaken to develop a framework and model for economic burden analysis:
- a literature review identifying studies reporting the cost of health conditions and injuries in the Department of Defense,
- Consultation with a panel of subject matter experts who reviewed these cost items, and
- Discussions with DoD data stewards and review of relevant data dictionaries and databases.
A Markov model was developed to represent the cumulative economic effect of events along the career span, such as retraining after hearing impairment and injury, by synthesizing inputs from various sources.
The model, as developed and proposed in this study, will be a valuable decision-making tool for the DoD to identify high-risk groups, take proactive measures, and develop focused education, customized equipping, and return-to-duty and reintegration programs, thereby maximizing the retention of skilled, experienced, and mission-ready Service Members.