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Staff and students encouraged to take part in University-led sound tolerance survey

Researchers from the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences have launched two surveys to investigate sound tolerance prevalence in students at university, with hopes that the results will contribute to making the university experience for students who experience such conditions more enjoyable.

Several recent studies (Yilmaz et al., 2017; Naylor et al., 2020) have shown that a considerable number of students experience sound tolerance problems, but estimates have been somewhat varied. However, it is believed it can range between 6%-40%.

The aim of the student survey is to determine the prevalence of hyperacusis (a heightened sensitivity to some sounds) and misophonia (having a negative response or emotion to hearing particular sounds) in the undergraduate-student population at Loughborough University, using established and newly developed measures of these disorders. The survey consists of a number of questionnaires alongside a listening task.

For the staff version, the aim is to assess lecturers’ levels of awareness of the existence of sound tolerant problems in the student body, and to study the lecturers’ attitudes towards these problems and their willingness to make adjustments for affected students.

It is hoped the results of both surveys can provide useful insights and ultimately improve the support offering for students with sound tolerance conditions. 

The research team are aiming for 300-500 participants for the student survey, and around 100 lecturers for the staff version.

As the student survey can take up to 45 minutes to complete, participants will either receive a £10 Amazon voucher as a thank you for their time, or for 1st-year Psychology students, course credit via the student participation scheme. The staff alternative should take less than five minutes to finish.

To take part, students must be undergraduates aged between 18-30 years, and staff must have taught for a minimum of two years.

The research has been led by four Psychology undergraduate students – Lauren Feather, Billie Fenner, Kate Plant and Georgia Wyld – under the supervision of Dr Christian Füllgrabe, an internationally-recognised hearing scientist.

The study is conducted in collaboration with researchers from the University of Aix-Marseille, France.

When asked why they chose to undertake this piece of research, Kate commented: “I was interested in studying sound tolerance problems having lived with misophonia for several years. Due to the lack of research and understanding by many medical professionals, I was misdiagnosed multiple times until I took my own personal research to the GP.

“I’m hoping that by adding to the current research into sound sensitivities we will raise awareness of these conditions, provide reassurance to those experiencing them, and hopefully encourage further research into effective treatment options.”

Lauren added: “I decided to investigate staff perceptions of sound tolerance problems in the student population as I want to discover how aware staff are of the prevalence of these problems within their student cohorts.

“Furthermore, I would like to know their personal views on whether or not they believe sound tolerance problems should be taken as seriously as other mental and physical obstacles that negatively impact an individual's academic performance. I also enjoy the idea of taking part in a large-scale group study that has the potential for having a positive impact on students' education.”

Students can access the survey here.

Staff can participate here.

Please note the survey will remain open until 17 May 2021.