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Year : 2003  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 19  |  Page : 19--30

Qualitative responses of children to environmental noise


1 Environment and Health Group, Department of Psychiatry, St Bartholomew's and The Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London, UK; Health Risk Management Practice, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sydney, Australia
2 Environment and Health Group, Department of Psychiatry, St Bartholomew's and The Royal London School of Medicine and Dentistry, Queen Mary, University of London, UK

Correspondence Address:
M M Haines
Health Risk Management, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, 201 Sussex Street, GPO Box 2650 Sydney, NSW, 1171, Australia

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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


PMID: 12804209

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Results from recent quantitative research consistently demonstrate that children are a high risk group, vulnerable to the adverse effects of noise exposure, especially effects on cognitive performance, motivation and annoyance. The aims of the two qualitative studies reported in this paper are to explore children's a) perception of noise exposure; b) perceived risk of and attitudes towards noise pollution; c) coping strategies; and d) the annoyance response. The Millennium Conference Study involved focus group interviews with an international sample (n=36) unselected by exposure. The West London Schools Study involved individual interviews, conducted with a purposively selected sample (n=18) exposed to aircraft noise. The children in the focus groups reported being most affected by neighbours' noise and road traffic noise, whereas children exposed to aircraft noise were most affected by aircraft noise. As expected, the impact of noise pollution on everyday activities (e.g. schoolwork, homework and playing) was larger for the children exposed to high levels of aircraft noise compared with the low noise exposed children and focus group samples. The range of coping strategies that children employed to combat noise exposure in their lives was dependent upon the amount of control they had over the noise source. The emotional response of children describing the annoyance reaction to noise was consistent with adult reactions and it would seem that child noise annoyance is the same construct. Future research should employ qualitative methods to supplement quantitative investigations.






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