Open Access Research article

Stress and prevalence of hearing problems in the Swedish working population

Dan Hasson12*, Töres Theorell2, Martin Benka Wallén12, Constanze Leineweber2 and Barbara Canlon1

Author Affiliations

1 Karolinska Institutet, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden

2 Stress Research Institute, Stockholm University, SE-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:130  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-130

Published: 23 February 2011



Current human and experimental studies are indicating an association between stress and hearing problems; however potential risk factors have not been established. Hearing problems are projected to become among the top ten disabilities according to the WHO in the near future. Therefore a better understanding of the relationships between stress and hearing is warranted. Here we describe the prevalence of two common hearing problems, i.e. hearing complaints and tinnitus, in relation to different work-and health-related stressors.


A total of 18,734 individuals were invited to participate in the study, out of which 9,756 (52%) enrolled.


The results demonstrate a clear and mostly linear relationship between higher prevalence of hearing problems (tinnitus or hearing loss or both) and different stressors, e.g. occupational, poorer self-rated health, long-term illness, poorer sleep quality, and higher burnout scores.


The present study unambiguously demonstrates associations between hearing problems and various stressors that have not been previously described for the auditory system. These findings will open new avenues for future investigations.