Use of a hearing and balance screening survey with local primary care physicians

Am J Audiol. 2008 Jun;17(1):3-13. doi: 10.1044/1059-0889(2008/002).


Purpose: This investigation is a follow-up to a national survey of hearing/balance screening and referrals in elderly patients by primary care physicians (PCPs). This local study focused on PCPs who actually treated elderly patients and could be contacted and followed in a single community.

Method: PCPs in Santa Barbara, CA, were surveyed with a 35-item questionnaire via mailings, phone calls, and hand delivery to determine their participation in, knowledge of, and attitudes toward hearing/balance screening and referrals for the elderly. Potential respondents were 154 PCPs obtained from WebMD, Google, and telephone and provider directories for Santa Barbara. Of the 154 surveys mailed/delivered, 33 were returned undeliverable or unusable, and 32 were returned usable, producing an overall response rate of 26.5%.

Results: Results were similar to those of the national study; PCPs were unlikely to screen for hearing/balance problems unless patients complained. The PCPs were unaware of patient self-report screening methods and probably would not use them in the future.

Conclusions: These PCPs acknowledged the importance of hearing/balance problems in the elderly, but their responses demonstrated insufficiencies in knowledge and potential attitudinal, time, and reimbursement obstacles that could interfere with their screening for hearing/balance problems. Audiologists should partner with PCPs to improve ways of meeting patients' needs but must consider resource/payoff implications for such endeavours.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Medicare
  • Middle Aged
  • Postural Balance*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Referral and Consultation
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States