The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has published new recommendations for hearing screening for older adults. The recommendations are based upon a review of specific evidence of the benefits and harms of providing hearing screening to adults aged 50 and older who are asymptomatic for hearing loss. USPSTF recognizes the importance of clinical decision making that involves more than scientific evidence. However, the task force concluded that there is insufficient evidence to weigh and balance the benefits and harms of hearing screening for older adults.
This recommendation is a call to action for more scientists and researchers to assess whether the hearing screening of asymptomatic adults would lead to improved health outcomes. There are limited studies that assess whether treatment (amplification and AR services) leads to benefits, such as improvements in communication and social interaction, cognitive function, and quality of life.
Last year, ASHA collaborated with the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) to poll AARP members on the state of hearing [PDF] among the generation of adults age 50 years and older. The poll results indicated that a significant portion of this generation are either not aware that they have hearing loss or have decided to "make do" with untreated hearing loss. In addition, they are not aware of the negative consequences of untreated hearing loss. Of those surveyed, nearly 75% reported that finding a highly skilled professional was critically important. Their first stop appeared to be their primary care physician with referrals to audiologists.
For additional information, please contact Pam Mason, ASHA's director of audiology professional practices, at [email protected].