Hearing loss in over-65s: is routine questionnaire screening worthwhile?

J Laryngol Otol. 2000 Sep;114(9):661-6. doi: 10.1258/0022215001906633.


It has been suggested that there is considerable unmet need in respect of hearing loss amongst the elderly population, but no routine screening test is currently used in general practice to identify these patients. The aim of this study was to determine whether routine questionnaire screening of the over-65s is a feasible way to identify elderly patients with hearing loss in primary care and whether patients so identified would benefit from hearing aid fitting. A cohort of patients consisting of a sample of 234 individuals aged between 65 and 74, attending a doctor's surgery over a specified period, received a scored questionnaire to complete based on the Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly Screening test. Hearing aid owners and those with a hearing handicap were identified, and non-aid wearers with handicap offered examination and referral. Those patients who were fitted with aids were assessed after six months for aid usage and persisting handicap. Twenty-five per cent of the patient sample reported a previously undiagnosed hearing handicap. Six months after aid fitting, a reduction in hearing handicap was reported in 79 per cent of these cases and overall aid usage in the population sample had increased from nine per cent to 20 per cent. Routine questionnaire screening in general practice may be worthwhile since it is easy to carry out and the resulting intervention significantly reduces reported hearing handicap.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Algorithms
  • Audiometry
  • Family Practice
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Hearing Aids
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Presbycusis / diagnosis*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*