New research produced by an audiologist at charity Action on Hearing Loss has highlighted the important role medical professionals can play in encouraging people with hearing loss to take action and get hearing aids.
The research, Experiences of hearing loss and views towards interventions to promote uptake of rehabilitation support among UK adults, sought to identify interventions that would successfully encourage the three fifths of those with hearing loss who could benefit from hearing aids but don’t have them to seek help.
Crystal Rolfe, an audiologist who is Head of London and the South East for Local Engagement England at Action on Hearing Loss, conducted the research as part of her MSc in Health Psychology at University College London.
She said: “While there is a huge body of evidence demonstrating the effects of the loss of hearing has on health and wellbeing, it still takes people an average of 10 years to take action and get hearing aids. This research demonstrated the enormous amount of stock many people put into the advice and expertise offered by trained medical professionals such as nurses and audiologists, and found that if they are proactive about raising a loss of hearing during consultations this plays a significant role in reducing this time.
“With 11 million people in the UK living with a loos in hearing – a number set to increase to 15.6million by 2035 due to our ageing population – it’s more important than ever to proactively address it. Hearing loss is associated with poorer health-related quality of life and depression and an increased risk of dementia, encouraging greater uptake of hearing aids is a cost-effective intervention that will make a huge difference.”
Action on Hearing Loss recommends that medical professionals emphasise the benefits of managing a loss in hearing early before using a hearcheck screener or similar tool alongside otoscopy; if the patient has a hearing loss they then need to be referred onto an audiologist.
The charity hopes the research will encourage GPs and medical practitioners to proactively identify and screen patients for hearing loss.
For more details on what GPs can do for patients who might have a loss in hearing to visit
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