In a recent opinion article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Tonelli and Warick highlight the unmet needs of people with hearing loss during the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular the sound attenuation due to facemasks and physical, protective barriers.
They also highlight barriers to appropriate hearing loss interventions including lack of adult hearing screenings, high cost of hearing technology, and limited to no insurance coverage for audiological services and technologies.
The authors conclude with three actionable recommendations to address the deleterious effects of hearing loss.
- Develop a coordinated hearing health-care program to facilitate collaboration among hearing-care professionals and physicians.
- Recommend an individualized and collaborative approach to identify and implement the most appropriate accommodations and recommendations for patients and families.
- Increase research funding to identify the causes, consequences, and optimal treatment for persons with hearing loss.
For example, the National Institutes of Health has a low funding rate for hearing-related grants, despite the fact that hearing loss is common in older adults.
Concluding remarks encourage professionals and researchers to increase overall awareness of hearing loss as an important public health issue. However, achieving this requires action, appropriate and individualized recommendations, and a larger financial investment.
Tonelli M, Warick R. (2022) Focusing on the needs of people with hearing loss during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. JAMA 327(12):1129–1130.
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