This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Screening all older adults for hearing loss more cost-effective than GP referral scheme

Screening all older adults for hearing loss is more cost-effective than the current GP referral system, according to a new UK evaluation.

A one-stage screen for bilateral hearing loss of at least 30 dB hearing level in patients aged at least 60 years was found to be the most cost-effective, producing an incremental cost-effective ratio of £1,461 compared to GP referral.

A two-stage screen, where eligible adults are sent a questionnaire and then invited for a screen if they fail the questionnaire, was not cost-effective.

The study cohort included adults aged 55-74 identified by GP records as potentially being eligible for audiology screening. The authors tested both one-stage and two-stage screening from the age of 60 up to 74.

Study lead Dr Anna Morris, specialty registrar in public health in Winchester, said: ‘The implementation of an adult hearing screen programme should be considered by policymakers in the UK as a cost-effective way to reduce unmet need for hearing aids and improve quality of life among older adults.’

Journal of Public Health, available online 30 September 2012

Readers' comments (3)

  • Vinci Ho

    It is not clear what sort of outcomes or endpoints they were measuring to judge cost effectiveness.
    Clearly , there are a lot of unreported cases of hearing deficits in the elderly and screening can pick them up. But I have to say many patients do not wear their hearing aids and compliance can be quite poor.....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • There are a lot of people who would benefit from support and advice for their hearing loss and many who want to know how to communicate with someone who has a hearing loss. so screening or targeted screening seems to be a good idea. if hearing aids are part of that support then compliance is better than for most long term conditions. the earlier advice is sought the less the burden of hearing loss in terms of isolation and depression. so it seems sensible to try !

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It is known that those who experience hearing and communication difficulties delay for ten years or more before seeking professional advice and assistance. Any measures which promote screening for hearing loss to be considered as routine as sight tests and dental health checks should be universally encouraged and supported.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say