The Economic Impact of Adult Hearing Loss: A Systematic Review

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Abstract

Importance

Hearing impairment (HI) is highly prevalent in older adults and has been associated with adverse health outcomes. However, the overall economic impact of HI is not well described.

Objective

The goal of this review was to summarize available data on all relevant costs associated with HI among adults.

Evidence Review

A literature search of PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and Scopus was conducted in August 2015. For this systematic review, data extraction and quality assessment were performed by 2 independent reviewers. Eligibility criteria for included studies were presence of quantitative estimation of economic impact or loss of productivity of patients with HI, full-text English-language access, and publication in an academic, peer-reviewed journal or government report prior to August 2015. This review follows the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) statement. A meta-analysis was not performed owing to the studies’ heterogeneity in outcomes measures, methodology, and study country.

Findings

The initial literature search yielded 4595 total references. After 2043 duplicates were removed, 2552 publications underwent title and abstract review, yielding 59 articles for full-text review. After full-text review, 25 articles were included. Of the included articles, 8 incorporated measures of disability; 5 included direct estimates of medical expenditures; 8 included other cost estimates; and 7 were related to noise-induced or work-related HI. Estimates of the economic cost of lost productivity varied widely, from $1.8 to $194 billion in the United States. Excess medical costs resulting from HI ranged from $3.3 to $12.8 billion in the United States.

Conclusions and Relevance

Hearing loss is associated with billions of dollars of excess costs in the United States, but significant variance is seen between studies. A rigorous, comprehensive estimate of the economic impact of hearing loss is needed to help guide policy decisions around the management of hearing loss in adults.

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