How Often Is Hearing Loss Considered?
As audiologists, we know firsthand the impact that hearing loss has on communication. Before we begin speaking, we look at our patients and provide an unobstructed view of our face. As soon as patients walk into our office, we adjust the volume, pitch, and tempo of our speech to ensure that they can hear and understand us. We hope that other health-care providers, including physicians, are also attuned to their patients’ hearing needs particularly when helping older adults where a prevalence of hearing loss is high.
This, however, appears not to be the case. Cohen et al (2017) reviewed 67 studies investigating older patient–physician communication and discovered that less than 25 percent (16 studies) even mentioned the hearing loss in the study. Only three studies reported an association between hearing loss and the quality of communication between physician and patient. This suggests that many studies in this area are neglecting an important confounder. It also suggests that much more education on the importance of hearing is needed within health care, particularly with physicians, knowing that good communication is a key element of higher quality health care.
Cohen JM, Blustein J, Weinstein BE, Dischinger H, Sherman S, Grudzen C, Chodosh J. (2017) Studies of Physician-Patient Communication with Older Patients: How Often Is Hearing Loss Considered? A Systematic Literature Review. J Am Geriatr Soc. doi:10.1111/jgs.14860