02 Apr USPSTF Reviews Screening for Hearing Loss in Older Adults
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Chien-Wen Tseng, M.D., M.P.H., M.S.E.E.
The Hawaii Medical Service Association Endowed Chair
Health Services and Quality Research
Professor, and Associate Research Director
Department of Family Medicine and Community Health
University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Age-related hearing loss cannot be reversed and can be a significant problem for older adults. Four out of 10 adults who are age 70 and older report hearing loss and it can worsen isolation, cognitive decline, and quality of life, as well as interfere with someone’s ability to live independently. There are simple screening tests to detect hearing loss, so the Task Force did an extensive review of whether there are health benefits to screening for hearing loss in people who do not have symptoms before they notice any hearing problems.
The Task Force determined that there is not enough evidence to recommend for or against screening for hearing loss in adults who are age 50 and older and do not have signs or symptoms of hearing loss. This is an I statement.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Hearing loss is a common health problem among older adults, and it’s important that people who have noticed problems with their hearing talk to their doctor to get the care they need. Clinicians whose patients have hearing problems can offer them the appropriate screenings and interventions to improve their hearing.
The Task Force reviewed whether it is beneficial to screen people who have not noticed any issues with their hearing for hearing loss and concluded that there was not enough information available to make a recommendation.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: We need more research on whether screening for hearing loss in persons who have not noticed hearing problems leads to better health, function, or quality of life. We need better ways to identify not just which people have hearing loss, but which ones would want an intervention to improve their hearing, such as hearing aids. These studies should include the general adult population and also look at any potential harms of screening and treatment.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: Age-related hearing loss is an important public health problem. We need more evidence on whether or not there is a health benefit to screen for hearing loss in older persons who do not report any signs or symptoms. This recommendation is consistent with the Task Force’s previous recommendation from 2012 on screening for hearing loss in adults who have not noticed any issues with their hearing. Of course, if someone is experiencing hearing loss or is concerned about their hearing, they should talk to their clinician to get the care they need.
- US Preventive Services Task Force. Screening for Hearing Loss in Older Adults: US Preventive Services Task Force Recommendation Statement. JAMA. 2021;325(12):1196–1201. doi:10.1001/jama.2021.2566
2. Feltner C, Wallace IF, Kistler CE, Coker-Schwimmer M, Jonas DE. Screening for Hearing Loss in Older Adults: Updated Evidence Report and Systematic Review for the US Preventive Services Task Force. JAMA. 2021;325(12):1202–1215. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.24855
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