Profile: Sally Lechlitner Lusk

[a portrait of Dr. Lusk]

Since 1969, my roles and experiences at the University of Michigan have included developing and teaching academic programs, and conducting research projects. I developed an off-campus B.S.N. completion program for RNs, and an on-campus occupational health nursing Masters' degree program. Offering the B.S.N has enabled more than 1,000 RNs to obtain a baccalaureate degree, most of whom would not have been able to do so without the program because there were no programs available in their communities. Similarly, the Masters' degree program for occupational health nurses has now evolved into an on-job/on-campus (OJOC) format, enabling practicing occupational health nurses to obtain specialty preparation and retain their positions, essential since their families may be dependent on them as wage-earners.

Research also has been important. My research project was the first survey of corporate perspectives of occupational health nurses roles and its results have been widely used.

As I became more involved in the OHN field, I wanted to direct my efforts to the recipients of services, nursing's clients, rather than activities of nursing personnel. Thus, attention to workers, the recipients of services from occupational health nursing, was the next step. It was clear little attention had been directed to workers' attitudes regarding protecting themselves from illness or injury. After identifying this gap, I focused on workers' use of personal protective equipment. Believing workers' perceptions are at least as important as the equipment itself, I embarked on preliminary studies using components of the Health Promotion Model to explain workers' use of respirators, gloves, and hearing protection.

The resulting project, Nursing Model to Prevent Noise-Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) founded by the National Institute of Nursing Research and the National Institute of Hearing and Communication Disorders at the National Institute of Health, has received international recognition. It was featured on the Sigma Theta Tau television program "Nursing Approach," and a press release distributed by the University of Michigan News and Information Services generated more than thirty requests from the business sector for additional information regarding our study.

The next phase involved the design and testing of an intervention to increase workers' use of hearing protection, which began with a pilot test of an intervention with 146 factory workers. As this pilot work was proceeding, NIOSH funded our project to identify the factors associated with construction workers' use of hearing protection, designed an intervention, and tested its effectiveness in a randomized controlled study. The intervention package (a videotape with a guided practice session, a brochure reinforcing content, samples of hearing protection devices (HPDs), and a flyer indentifying sources for HPDs was prepared and tested. It resulted in significant increases in use of HPDs by two of the four groups of workers at a twelve month post-test. This package, and the addition of a trainer's manual, is available through the American Association of Industrial Hygienists.

Concomitant with the focus on preventing NIHL, an opportunity arose to study non-auditory effects of noise exposure. Workers provided data through a questionnaire regarding lifestyle, stress, medical history, and psychological attributes, and selected workers wore ambulatory monitoring equipment to simultaneously measure blood pressure, pulse, and noise exposure as they worked. Designed as a preliminary study to determine the feasibility of conducting such a study in the worksite, it documented feasibility and demonstrated both acute and chronic effects of noise on blood pressure, pulse and symptomatology. If these results are replicated in a larger study, it will increase the importance of reducing noise exposure, through engineering and administrative controls as well as through the use of hearing protection.

A subsequent project funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research developed and tested an interactive multimedia individually-tailored intervention delivered via computer to factory workers in a randomized controlled design. This tailored intervention resulted in a significant increase in use of HPDs, while two other non-tailored interventions also delivered by computer did not significantly increase use six to eighteen months following the intervention. Tests of booster interventions found no significant long-term effect of boosters on HPD use.

Professional Experience

* current position

Funded Research

Training Grants

Occupational Health Nursing Program, Project Director, NIOSH Grant to Michigan Center for Occupational Health & Safety Engineering, 1986-1990, 1990-1995, 1995-2000, 2000-2005.


Recent Academic, Professional, and Community Service

Professional Organizations

Invitational Conferences

Advisory Committees and Boards

Manuscript Reviewing

Selected Honors and Memberships

Selected Bibliography

What is Noise-Induced Hearing Loss?
Research: Effects of Occupational Noise
Links: Web Sites for Occupational Health

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