A study at Manchester University published in the Journal of Ear and Hearing has found that only a fifth of people with hearing problems wear a hearing aid.
- 10.7 per cent of adults had significant hearing problems when listening to speech in the presence of background noise, but only 2.1 per cent used a hearing aid.
- One in 10 middle aged adults had substantial hearing problems and were more likely to be from a working class or ethnic minority background.
Dr Piers Dawes, from The University of Manchester’s Audiology and Deafness research group, said: “This is the first study to describe the prevalence of difficulties understanding speech in background noise in a large sample of the population, anywhere in the world.
“It shows hearing aids remain significantly under used despite significant improvements in both technology and their provision, and a high proportion of people who would benefit from treatment may not receive effective intervention.
“Reasons for the lack of uptake might be lack of awareness of treatment options, lack of recognition of their difficulties, finding hearing aids uncomfortable or finding them of limited help.”
Professor Kevin Munro, Ewing Professor of Audiology at The University of Manchester who also worked on the study, said: “There still seems to be a stigma attached to wearing a hearing aid, where as there is little stigma now associated with vision loss and wearing spectacles. “This might be because eye care also involves lifestyle choices – it’s available on the high street without the need to see a GP and onward referral to an audiologist in hospital, which emphasises illness and frailty.”
The team at Manchester University is the first in the world to have gained access to the UK Biobank resource and data of over 160,000 UK adults.
Links: Press coverage of this research can be found here.
View the published finding in the Journal of Ear and Hearing here.