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HY Wu, JJ Chin, HMH Tong
Correspondence: Dr Wu Huei Yaw, firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
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 detection 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.
Keywords: audiometric testing, hearing aids, hearing impairment, psychosocial impact, questionnaire
Singapore Med J 2004; 45(2): 79-84