Feasibility of a low-cost hearing screening in rural Indiana

Background: Hearing loss remains a neglected public health issue in the rural and agricultural communities in the United States and therefore, promotion of a low-cost hearing screening may be important for these underserved populations. The major objectives of our study were to assess feasibility of a low-cost telephone-administered hearing test in rural Indiana and to identify the challenges, barriers and viable implementation strategies associated with this test. Also, we evaluated whether a focus group session could change the hearing health attitude of rural residents. Methods: We recruited 126 adults from six rural Indiana counties who participated in study activities in the following order: 1) a pre-focus group demographic, knowledge and attitude survey, 2) a focus group for discussing the feasibility of a telephone-administered hearing screening, 3) a post focus group attitude survey and 4) hearing was screened using an audiometer and self-assessment scale. These activities generated both qualitative and quantitative data, which were subsequently analyzed. Results: Hearing impairment was perceived as an important public health issue. Many participants expressed interests to try the low-cost National Hearing Test (NHT). However, participants recommended NHT to be facilitated by community organizations to provide access to landline phones. The focus group turned out to be an excellent awareness building activity producing significant improvement in hearing health attitudes. Comparison of self and audiometric evaluations indicated underestimation of hearing handicap in our rural study population. Conclusions: The study results underscore the urgent need for an effective strategy to promote low-cost hearing screening in rural US communities.

Publication Date:
Date Submitted:
Aug 10 2018
BMC public health
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 Record created 2018-08-10, last modified 2019-04-03

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