Screening for Hearing Impairment in a Cohort of Elderly Patients Attending a Hospital Geriatric Medicine Service
Introduction: This study sets out to determine the usefulness of a questionnaire to screen for hearing impairment, assess the psychosocial impact of hearing handicap and survey older persons’ attitudes towards hearing aid usage.
Type of publication:Scientific publications
Date of publication:01/01/2004
Author(s):H Y Wu, J J Chin, H M H Tong
Publishing organization:Singapore Med
Methods: Subjects were recruited from a Geriatric Medicine unit over a six-month period. A questionnaire was administered, followed by an otoscopic examination and audiometric testing.
Results: Sixty-three patients were included in the study. Fifty-two (83%) patients had hearing impairment, of which 34 were moderately severe
and 18 were mild. Of the six questions used in hearing screening, the question on self-perception was the most specific (91%). Administering the remaining five questions on activities of daily living improved the questionnaire’s sensitivity from 58% to 73%,although the specificity was reduced from 91% to 64%. Of the 30 patients with self-perceived and
audiometrically-confirmed hearing impairment, about 40% reported negative psychosocial impact as a result of the handicap. 66.7% were not keen to consider using hearing aid, even if recommended.
The willingness to use hearing aids was correlated to patients’ functional status (p=0.002) but not to the severity of hearing impairment (p=0.157).
Conclusion: Self-perception of hearing problems in the elderly is a strong indicator of hearing impairment. Introducing additional culturally-
relevant questions based on activities of daily living improves the dete
ction rate of hearing impairment. Although hearing loss impacts
negatively on psychosocial well-being, most elderly subjects are unwilling to consider the use of hearing aids. There is a need to educate the elderly on the importance of intervention in order to reduce their handicap and improve their quality of life.