Article

The epidemiology of hearing impairment in an Australian adult population. International

Mrc Harwell, Oxford, England, United Kingdom
International Journal of Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 9.18). 04/1999; 28(2):247-252. DOI: 10.1093/ije/28.2.247
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

Background:
This study measured the prevalence of hearing impairment, and major demographic factors that influence the prevalence, in a representative South Australian adult population sample aged > or = 15 years.

Methods:
The study group was recruited from representative population surveys of South Australians. Participants in these surveys who reported a hearing disability were then recruited to an audiological study which measured air and bone conduction thresholds. In addition a sample of those people who reported no hearing disability were recruited to the audiological study.

Results:
The data reported in this study are the first in Australia to assess the prevalence of hearing impairment from a representative population survey using audiological methods. The data show that 16.6% of the South Australian population have a hearing impairment in the better ear at > or = 25 dBHTL and 22.2% in the worse ear at the same level. The results obtained in this representative sample compare well with those obtained in the British Study of Hearing, although some differences were observed.

Conclusions:
Overall, there are only a few studies worldwide that have audiologically assessed the impairment of hearing from a representative population sample. The overall prevalence of hearing impairment in Australia is similar to that found in Great Britain, although there are some differences between the estimates of severity of impairment and some sex differences. The corroboration of the two studies reinforces the status of hearing impairment as the most common disability of adulthood. The present study also showed that there are a large number of Australians who may benefit from a more systematic community-based rehabilitation programme including the fitting of hearing aids. Secondly, the study identified the need for health goals and targets for hearing to be based on an epidemiological approach to the problem.

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