Road Traffic Noise, Noise Sensitivity, Noise Annoyance, Psychological and Physical Health and Mortality
Background: Both physical and psychological health outcomes have been associated with exposure to environmental noise. It is not known whether all individuals are equally susceptible to these effects. Noise sensitivity has chiefly been examined in studies of annoyance where it has been shown to moderate the annoyance responses to transport-related noise. Noise sensitivity could have the same moderating effect on physical and psychological health outcomes related to environmental noise exposure
... tal noise exposure but this has been little tested. Noise sensitivity which is also associated with sensitivity to chemicals, light and odours could be an indicator of a more pervasive susceptibility to ill-health related to environmental sources. Methods: A cohort of 2398 men between 45 and 59 years, the longitudinal Caerphilly Collaborative Heart Disease study, was established in 1984/88 and followed into the mid-1990s. Road traffic noise maps were assessed at baseline. Baseline psychological ill-health measures were measured in phase 2 in 1984/88, at phase 3 follow up 1989/93 and phase 4 follow up in 1993/6.Ischaemic heart disease and risk factors were measured in clinic and by questionnaire at baseline and through hospital records and administrative records of deaths during follow up. This study aimed to test if noise sensitivity and noise annoyance have moderating effects on road traffic noise and psychological ill-health and secondly if noise sensitivity and noise annoyance predict physical and psychological ill-health and mortality, irrespective of exposure to road traffic noise. Results: Road traffic noise was associated with Phase 4 psychological ill-health but only among those exposed to 56-60dBA (OR= 1.98 95%CI 1.21, 3.24). High noise sensitivity was associated with lower mortality risk (HR=0.71, 95%CI 0.54-0.94). High noise sensitivity was associated longitudinally with psychological ill-health at phase 3 (OR=1.82 95%CI1.30, 2.56) and phase 4 (OR=1.78 95%CI 1.26, 2.52). There was weak evidence that noise sensitivity moderated the association of road traffic noise exposure with psychological ill-health. Noise annoyance predicted psychological ill-health at phase 4 in the sample in which baseline cases of psychological ill-health were included (OR= 2.08 95%CI 1.00, 4.31). Neither noise sensitivity nor noise annoyance moderated the effects of road traffic noise on ischaemic heart disease morbidity or mortality. Noise annoyance did not moderate the effects of road traffic noise on psychological ill-health.Conclusions: Noise sensitivity is a specific predictor of psychological ill-health and may be an indicator of current psychological ill-health as part of a wider construct of environmental susceptibility. It may increase the risk of psychological ill-health when exposed to road traffic noise.