Burden of Hearing Loss on Communication Partners and Its Influence on Pursuit of Hearing Evaluation

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Abstract

Objective:

Describe how the burden on the communication partner (CP) from the patient’s hearing loss, as perceived by both the patient and their CP, influences a patient’s pursuit of hearing evaluation.

Design:

Cross-sectional design. Demographics, perception of patient’s hearing loss, and associated burden on the CP were collected from both patient and CP via online questionnaires. Patients and their CPs from Duke University Medical Center Otolaryngology Clinic, 55 to 75 years of age, being seen for any reason, who indicated a CP has expressed concern about their hearing. Final sample was 245 matched pairs.

Results:

Based on completed questionnaires, on average, patients perceived their own hearing loss as more burdensome to the CP than the CP did. However, CPs of patients who believed themselves to have no hearing handicap scored the patient’s hearing loss 54.3% higher than the patient. The patient’s perspective about the amount of burden their hearing loss placed on the CP predicted patients seeking a hearing evaluation.

Conclusions:

Recognition of early stage hearing loss and associated burden on CPs may be delayed in patients; CPs may help elucidate unrecognized concerns. Educational approaches that raise awareness of burden of hearing loss on CPs along with hearing loss indications could be a feasible, multidimensional strategy to promote help seeking behaviors.

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