Low levels of identification and management of hearing loss by GPs

January 01, 0001

Low levels of identification and management of hearing loss by GPs

The aim of this study by Australian researchers was to assess the extent to which general practitioners in Australia are engaged in identifying age-related hearing loss and facilitating its management. It consisted of a cross-sectional analysis of data collected between 1998 and 2000 from the Blue Mountains Hearing Study (BMHS), a representative population-based cohort of people aged = 50 years. Also analysed were data collected between 2003 and 2008 from random samples of Australian GPs who participated in the Bettering the Evaluation and Care of Health (BEACH) study, a national continuous cross-sectional survey of GP activity.

Of older people in the BMHS with measured (objective) bilateral hearing loss, about a third reported seeking help from their GP. BEACH survey data showed that only about 3 per 1000 GP consultations with patients aged at least 50 years involved management of age-related hearing loss. For every 100 age-related hearing problems managed, GPs undertook 12 procedural treatments, provided 20 referrals to specialists, and made 29 referrals to allied health professionals.

The authors concluded: “In their routine consultations with patients, GPs have opportunities to identify hearing loss and appropriately refer patients to specialists or allied health professionals. Although GPs are responding to patient presentations for hearing loss, referring around 50% of cases, there appear to be relatively few cases in which hearing loss is identified opportunistically. Levels of identification and management of hearing loss by GPs in Australia are relatively low.”

Inaction can be deafening.

For the full abstract, click here.

MJA 192(1):20-23, 4 January 2010. © 2010 to The Medical Journal of Australia
Role of general practitioners in managing age-related hearing loss. Julie M Schneider, Bamini Gopinath, Catherine M McMahon, et al. Correspondence to Dr. Paul Mitchell: [email protected]

Category: H. Ear. Keywords: general practitioners, hearing loss, age related, cross sectional study
Synopsis edited by Dr Stephen Wilkinson, Melbourne, Australia. Posted on Global Family Doctor 13 January 2010

Pearls are an independent product of the Cochrane primary care group and are meant for educational use and not to guide clinical care.