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Sunderland Repository records the research produced by the University of Sunderland including practice-based research and theses.

An alternative approach for detecting hearing loss in adults with learning disabilities.

McShea, Lynzee, Giles, Karen, Murphy, A and Ling, Jonathan (2021) An alternative approach for detecting hearing loss in adults with learning disabilities. British Journal of Learning Disabilities. ISSN 1354-4187

Item Type: Article


1.1 Background
Annual health checks in primary care include hearing assessment, though current guidance recommends subjective assessment only. Previous studies suggest this is inadequate and recommend objective alternatives such as hearing screening. This study aimed to assess the feasibility of hearing screening and examine the last recorded annual health check outcome for hearing, for those diagnosed with hearing loss as a result of the screening process.

1.2 Method
Hearing screening took place in four locations and 75 people with learning disabilities participated. Contact was made with each individual's GP to share results and to request onward referral where indicated.

1.3 Findings
Wax occlusion prevented screening for 23%. Fifty‐seven people completed the screen, and 25 had suspected hearing loss. Of these, 22 people required referral to Audiology to verify their hearing thresholds. Only 13 were actually referred, and 11 individuals underwent assessment in Audiology, resulting in 10 being diagnosed with hearing loss. The most recent annual health check outcomes for hearing were examined for those diagnosed with hearing loss. Of the records we accessed, hearing loss had not been identified or actioned in every case.

1.4 Conclusions
Hearing screening is shown here to be a suitable method for detecting hearing loss. We recommend changing current annual health check practice to incorporate objective screening. Only 12% of those with suspected hearing loss were known to Audiology services, suggesting a substantial proportion of undetected hearing loss in the community. We found evidence of apparent reluctance around referral and hearing aid fitting and make suggestions for improvement.

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More Information

Depositing User: Jonathan Ling


Item ID: 13066
Identification Number:
ISSN: 1354-4187
Official URL:

Users with ORCIDS

ORCID for Karen Giles: ORCID iD
ORCID for Jonathan Ling: ORCID iD

Catalogue record

Date Deposited: 20 Jan 2021 14:49
Last Modified: 23 Apr 2021 10:45


Author: Karen Giles ORCID iD
Author: Jonathan Ling ORCID iD
Author: Lynzee McShea
Author: A Murphy

University Divisions

Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellbeing


Social Sciences > Health and Social Care

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