Adult Hearing Screening

The scope of this page includes hearing screening of adults age 18 years and older.


See the Screening Section of the Hearing Loss (Adults) Evidence Map for summaries of the available research on this topic.

Hearing screening is the systematic application of a test or inquiry completed to identify individuals who are at risk for a hearing disorder, impairment, or disability and who may benefit from further assessment, direct preventive action, and/or appropriate intervention.

It is estimated that 15% of the adult population in the United States has hearing loss (Blackwell, Lucas, & Clarke, 2014). The incidence of hearing loss increases with age, with 5.5% of adults ages 18–39, 19% of adults ages 40–69, and 43% of adults over age 70 with self-reported difficulty hearing without a hearing aid (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2015).

Without intervention, hearing loss in adults contributes to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and other cognitive disorders (Kochkin & Rogin, 2000). A strong correlation has been found between hearing loss and the risk for developing dementia ( Lin et al., 2011). In 2012, the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force (USPSTF) acknowledged that hearing loss is a common consequence of aging and that many older adults may not recognize the early stages of hearing loss. The USPSTF called for additional research to better understand the health benefits that might result from the hearing screening of adults in primary care settings (USPSTF, 2012). Routine hearing screenings may reduce the prevalence of underdiagnosed and undertreated hearing loss in adults ( Yueh, Shapiro, MacLean, & Shekelle, 2003).

This page excludes screening protocols and standards for occupational hearing conservation programs. For more information on this topic, please see Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA): Hearing Conservation.

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