Knowledge of Hearing Loss among University Students Pursuing Careers in Health Care

J Am Acad Audiol. 2019 Apr;30(4):273-281. doi: 10.3766/jaaa.17071. Epub 2018 Sep 24.


Background: Albeit limited, research suggests that students pursuing careers in health care receive limited training on the provision of services for people with hearing loss. As the incidence of hearing loss continues to increase among Americans, it is critical that medical professionals understand how hearing loss among patients may affect the manner in which they can provide services most effectively.

Purpose: The aim of this project is to assess the amount of experience and confidence that preprofessional health-care students at one university obtain during the course of their training and whether these students would be interested in additional information related to hearing health.

Research design: Preprofessional health-care students in terminal degree programs at one university completed a survey regarding the provision of services for individuals with hearing loss. Students were asked to quantify their prior training on topics related to hearing loss, report their perceptions of the benefits and barriers to screening hearing, and report their self-efficacy in providing services for individuals with hearing loss. Additional survey items investigated students' interest in receiving further training on these topics.

Study sample: Participants (n = 95; 16.2% response rate) were students at a mid-sized, Midwestern university who were pursuing the following terminal degrees: medicine, physician assistant, nursing, pharmacy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and respiratory therapy (bachelor's degree in respiratory care). Participants were selected based on membership in an interdisciplinary education training program. All students in this program received an invitation to participate in the study. Of the participants, 68 (71.6%) were Caucasian and 86 (90.5%) were female.

Data collection and analysis: A 28-item online survey on various topics related to hearing loss was used to document student responses. All students enrolled in a university's interdisciplinary professional education course (n = 586) received an online link to the survey via an initial email, which contained a brief introduction to the study, the assurance of response anonymity, and a statement regarding implied consent. A second email was sent to students, which reminded participants of the request to complete the survey.

Results: Overall, 60% of participants reported an interest in receiving additional information on hearing health and 66.3% of respondents indicated that they wished to receive training via an in-service or internet workshop facilitated by their university program. Most of the participants reported that they had not received training and did not feel confident identifying the signs and symptoms of hearing loss and making an appropriate referral, which led to the request for additional information.

Conclusions: The results of this study suggest that preprofessional health-care students have an interest in receiving additional education on various topics related to hearing loss including a better understanding of how hearing loss impacts the quality of life in affected individuals. These findings provide an incentive to provide additional training related to hearing loss identification and management for preprofessional health-care students to foster increased competency and improved patient care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Hearing Loss*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Midwestern United States
  • Self Report
  • Students, Health Occupations*
  • Universities