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Impact of hearing loss on clinical interactions between older adults and health professionals: a systematic review

An Editorial to this article was published on 12 August 2020

Key summary points

AbstractSection Objectives

This review quantified the extent to which hearing loss is cited and/or accounted for in studies of older adult interactions with medical, nursing, and allied health professionals

AbstractSection Results

Only 28 (25.7%) papers of the 109 papers reviewed, which focused on health professional-older patient communication, mentioned hearing loss.

AbstractSection Message

Across the health professions, few studies which have focused on clinical communication involving older adults have incorporated hearing loss as a variable in their study design or analyses.

Abstract

Purpose

Age-related hearing loss increases significantly in people aged 60 years and older. An ageing population with impaired hearing presents an additional burden to the multiple comorbidities found among older patients, who are high users of medical services. We sought to quantify the extent to which hearing loss is cited and/or accounted for in studies of older adult interactions with health professionals.

Method

We conducted a systematic review focusing on clinical communication with older adults, based on a literature search within two databases, PubMed and SCOPUS. Thematic analysis was used to classify studies based on type of health communication.

Results

The following health communication categories were identified: quality of clinical communication; enhancement of patient-centred care; information exchange between patient and health professionals; informed consent and shared decision-making. The health profession category ‘Physician’/’Doctor’ contributed most of the articles (N = 81), and the remaining articles (N = 28) belonged to the other health professions. Twenty-eight papers of 109 (25.7%) mentioned hearing loss; 18 only referred to hearing loss within the context of the text, five referred to hearing loss as an exclusion criterion, three were associational findings, and only two studies included an intervention.

Conclusions

Despite the high prevalence of age-related hearing loss, we demonstrate that across the health professions, very few studies on health professional–older patient communication have incorporated hearing loss as a variable in their study design or analyses. Additionally, there is a lack of research focusing specifically on interventions designed to mitigate the effects of hearing loss on clinical communication.

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Correspondence to Colm M. P. O’Tuathaigh.

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Smith, S., Nordin, M.A.B., Hinchy, T. et al. Impact of hearing loss on clinical interactions between older adults and health professionals: a systematic review. Eur Geriatr Med 11, 919–928 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41999-020-00358-3

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41999-020-00358-3

Keywords

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Communication
  • Clinical interaction
  • Health research