Expanding Hearing Loss Education & Awareness
Current epidemiological estimates for hearing loss lack the geographic or demographic detail necessary for public health planning and intervention.
Hearing loss affects over 23% of Americans ages 12 and older in at least one ear. Hearing Loss impacts quality of life health, activities of daily living, and life expectancy, and is amenable to public health interventions, but is under-addressed by federal public health prevention efforts. Current public health programs focus on newborn hearing screening and hearing loss from occupational exposures. However, the National Health Interview Survey estimated that 15% of adults ages 18 and older report difficulty hearing, with rates increasing from 6.2% among persons ages 18 to 44 to 44.4% among those ages 75 and older. There is a need to increase the public’s awareness and knowledge of hearing loss for which there is a clear disparity in public and professional awareness.
NORC created small area estimates of hearing loss for all ages, nationally, and in each state and county.
NORC used examination-based measurements from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and Medicare claims and encounter data to estimate the total amount of hearing loss, and data on self-reported hearing difficulty hearing from the American Community Survey (ACS) and other data sources to assess variation in hearing loss at the county level and among groups that are underrepresented in examination studies. To enhance awareness and education about hearing loss, NORC and its partner Burness developed a custom hearing loss website www.soundcheckmap.org to house the study information, educational resources, and an interactive state and county level map.
The project resulted in increased awareness and scientific engagement, new estimates of hearing loss, and increased activation of hearing loss groups.
The project website www.soundcheckmap.org is live and provides public access to all project resources. Beginning in the winter of 2024, NORC is disseminating information about the project via project partners, earned media, and digital advertising with messages tailored to the public, public health professionals, and primary care providers
The project received the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association's (ASHA) "Changemaker Session" designation for the presentation, "National, State, and County Estimates of Bilateral Hearing Loss Prevalence in the United States: Expanding the National Approach to Hearing Loss Awareness" presented at the 2023 Annual Convention. This special designation was developed in keeping with the Association's theme of Igniting Innovation, and specifically recognizes presentations that are exceptional and promote or demonstrate innovation.