A Series of Systematic Reviews to Evaluate Evidence of the Association Between Noise Exposure and Various Health Outcomes

Principal investigator: Richard (Rick) Neitzel

Source of funding: Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)


Systematic reviews were undertaken to determine the association between a health outcome and noise exposure. This approach was used to formalize the search methodology and inclusion criteria to identify relevant data in the literature.  A systematic review entails the formulation of a review question (i.e. whether there is a relationship between noise exposure and a given health outcome), a defined inclusion and exclusion criteria, a comprehensive search strategy across several databases, the selection of studies based on the a priori established inclusion and exclusion criteria, an assessment of study quality, data extraction, an analysis of the results, and dissemination of findings (Uman, 2011).

We conducted this review using a pre-specified protocol, based on the 2009 Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. An experienced health sciences librarian then conducted a search of PubMed (NLM), EMBASE (Embase.com), and Agriculture and Environmental Science Database (ProQuest) for each topic.  5-6 sentinel articles were used as a means of harvesting search terms, including Medical Subject Headings (MeSH), Emtree, and Subject terms for each topic.  All searches were limited by English language and Humans.

The described methods were followed for these 11 health outcomes:

  • Hearing loss
  • Heart disease and stroke
  • Hypertension
  • Psychiatric and mental health disorders
  • Injury
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Low-birth weight and pre-term birth
  • Endocrine disruption
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Obesity
  • Cancer

Current work on this project is focused on developing publishable reports by health outcome.