May 3, 2021
(Rockville, MD) With hearing loss ranking as one of the most common chronic health conditions that U.S. adults experience, affecting an estimated 48 million people nationwide, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) today released new polling results [PDF] that reveal an overwhelming disconnect between the high value that Americans say they place on their hearing and their low willingness to be treated for any hearing loss. The findings are being made public in tandem with the launch of a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign—Act Now on Hearing—as the nation recognizes Better Hearing & Speech Month this May.
The poll of a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,500 U.S. adults ages 18 and older was commissioned by ASHA and conducted by YouGov in mid-March 2021. The following stats are among its key findings:
“These results are extremely concerning,” said A. Lynn Williams, PhD, CCC-SLP, 2021 ASHA President. “We know, and are consistently learning more, about how untreated hearing loss can not only impact a person’s quality of life and mental health, but that it can also be associated with cognitive decline, dementia, preventable hospitalizations, and more. This inaction on hearing health is especially unfortunate because there are effective treatment options that can enable adults with hearing loss to live fuller and more satisfying lives.”
The polling was conducted during a time of unique focus on hearing. Earlier this year, the World Health Organization (WHO) released the first-ever World Report on Hearing—which projected that 1 in 4 people worldwide will experience hearing loss by 2050.
And as the world navigates the COVID-19 pandemic, public health measures that help curb the spread of the virus—such as wearing masks and maintaining safe physical distance—also have made hearing each other more challenging. This has shed a unique and compelling light on how our hearing can affect our ability to communicate effectively. Hearing difficulties can impact personal relationships and almost every single daily interaction with others—including matters that could endanger a person’s physical safety and health, such as misunderstanding first responders or medical staff. For those with existing hearing loss, masks, physical distancing, and other safety measures have made navigating daily life especially difficult in many cases.
Some other noteworthy poll findings include the following:
In the wake of these results, ASHA’s consumer affiliate, the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action (NAHSA), is launching Act Now on Hearing. By launching this PSA campaign, NAHSA intends to encourage the public to take action, once and for all, on their hearing difficulties by visiting a certified audiologist for a hearing evaluation. It illustrates how hearing may decline gradually over a long period of time—further disconnecting us from moments we treasure, such as interactions with a grandchild. The PSA will air nationwide for at least a year, driving the public to www.ActNowonHearing.com to learn the signs of hearing loss and to find care from a certified audiologist.
For more information, visit the PSA campaign’s website, or visit the ASHA website at www.asha.org/public/.
Methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,439 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between March 16, 2021, and March 23, 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults (aged 18+).
About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 218,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.
About the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action (NAHSA)
NAHSA is the national consumer affiliate of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Dedicated to educating the public about communication disorders, it regularly conducts public outreach through a variety of means, including PSA campaigns, polling, events, exhibits, and collaborations with counterpart organizations. www.asha.org/nahsa
YouGov is a global provider of analysis and data generated by research in over 40 markets. As online market research pioneers, YouGov’s data consistently outperforms others on accuracy, as concluded by Pew Research. YouGov’s custom research specialists conduct a full spectrum of quantitative and qualitative research, providing comprehensive market intelligence to the world’s leading businesses and institutions.