Hard-of-hearing individuals more likely to report difficulties in accessing care
Research Activities, July 2012, No. 383
Hearing loss is prevalent in older adults and is the sixth most common chronic condition in the United States. A survey of 6,524 older adults has found that those who were hard-of-hearing were more likely to report difficulties in accessing health care. Thirteen percent of hard-of-hearing individuals reported experiencing difficulties and delays in health care access in the past year compared to 8 percent of those not hard-of-hearing. However, satisfaction with access to care was similar for both groups.
Hard-of-hearing individuals were proportionately more likely to have diabetes mellitus, atherosclerotic vascular disease, clinically significant depressive symptoms, and slightly lower self-rated health. They were also more likely to be male, separated/divorced, and to have Medicare insurance than private or Medicaid insurance.
The adults surveyed between 2003 and 2006 were all graduates of Wisconsin high schools in 1957. Eighteen percent among this group were hard-of-hearing. With the aging population, this group is likely to grow, caution the researchers. They recommend that resources be made available to proactively address the access to care issues for those who are hard-of-hearing and to educate providers about the specific needs of this population. Their study was supported in part by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (HS15700).
See "Hearing loss and older adults' perceptions of access to care" by Nancy Pandhi, Jessica R. Schumacher, Steven Barnett, and Maureen A. Smith in the Journal of Community Health 36, pp. 748-755, 2011.