Paper of the week: 04.07.18

Muir Gray’s paper of the week: Hearing Aids and Health-Related Quality of Life in Adults With Hearing Loss 

Listen to the accompanying short podcast below, or on SoundCloud here

Reference: Kitterick PT, Ferguson MA. Hearing Aids and Health-Related Quality of Life in Adults With Hearing Loss. JAMA. 2018;319(21):2225–2226. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.5567

Bottom line, chosen by Muir from the paper

Untreated hearing loss negatively affects communication and social engagement, can lead to reduced QOL, and is a potentially modifiable risk factor for dementia. 

Hearing aids are the primary noninvasive therapy for mild to moderate hearing loss in adults, but only 1 in 3 of those who are eligible for hearing aids have them. 

Implications for value improvement

If you want to motivate clinicians to increase value, focus initially on the underuse of high value interventions and only secondarily point out the lower value interventions such as polypharmacy that could be reduced not to make ‘savings’ but to fund more hearing aids for older people. It would not be surprising to find that the failure to provide hearing aids was more common in people from disadvantaged groups, so there is probably inequity as well as failure to provide high value healthcare.