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January 16, 2012

Identifying hearing loss - but not at the GP

Australian GPs only play a minor role when it comes to identifying age-related hearing loss, a study shows.

Identifying hearing loss - but not at the GP

Australian researchers have found that levels of identification and management of hearing loss by GPs in Australia are relatively low and there appear to be relatively few cases in which hearing loss is identified opportunistically. When GPs are responding to patients presenting with hearing loss, they refer around 50% of the cases to further treatment by specialists and allied health specialists.

Too few referrals?

Data from one former study showed that only about 3 out of 1000 GP consultations with patients above 50 years of age involved management of age-related hearing loss. For every 100 age-related hearing problems managed, GPs provided 20 referrals to specialists, made 29 referrals to allied health professionals and undertook 12 procedural treatments.

Another former survey showed that of people aged 50 or over with measured (and objective) bilateral hearing loss, only about a third reported seeking help from their GP.

The study analysed a cross-section of data collected between 1998 and 2000 from the Blue Mountains Hearing Study (BMHS) with participants over 50 years and data collected between 2003 and 2008 from random samples of Australian GPs who participated in the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health study (BEACH), an Australian continuous survey of GP activity.

The findings were published in Medical Journal of Australia, 2010 Jan 4; 192 (1): 20-3

Source: Audiology Infos, Scandinavia

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