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Effects of Scale, Question Location, Order of Response Alternatives, and Season on Self-Reported Noise Annoyance Using ICBEN Scales: A Field Experiment.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Author Brink Mark, Schreckenberg Dirk, Vienneau Danielle, Cajochen Christian, Wunderli Jean-Marc, Probst-Hensch Nicole, Röösli Martin,
Project Transportation noise, annoyance, sleep and cardiometabolic risk: an integrated approach on short- and long-term effects
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal International journal of environmental research and public health
Volume (Issue) 13(11)
Page(s) 1 - 19
Title of proceedings International journal of environmental research and public health
DOI 10.3390/ijerph13111163

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


The type of noise annoyance scale and aspects of its presentation such as response format or location within a questionnaire and other contextual factors may affect self-reported noise annoyance. By means of a balanced experimental design, the effect of type of annoyance question and corresponding scale (5-point verbal vs. 11-point numerical ICBEN (International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise) scale), presentation order of scale points (ascending vs. descending), question location (early vs. late within the questionnaire), and survey season (autumn vs. spring) on reported road traffic noise annoyance was investigated in a postal survey with a stratified random sample of 2386 Swiss residents. Our results showed that early appearance of annoyance questions was significantly associated with higher annoyance scores. Questionnaires filled out in autumn were associated with a significantly higher annoyance rating than in the springtime. No effect was found for the order of response alternatives. Standardized average annoyance scores were slightly higher using the 11-point numerical scale whereas the percentage of highly annoyed respondents was higher based on the 5-point scale, using common cutoff points. In conclusion, placement and presentation of annoyance questions within a questionnaire, as well as the time of the year a survey is carried out, have small but demonstrable effects on the degree of self-reported noise annoyance.