Identifying and treating hearing loss can have positive long-term effects on social and emotional wellbeing and may help to reduce the impact of several comorbidities. Importantly, hearing screening can identify individuals with hearing loss earlier and provide awareness to both the patient and licensed hearing professional, potentially leading to further diagnosis and treatment of hearing loss in support of better health outcomes.
Comprised of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) provides recommendations regarding preventive screenings and services. In September 2020, USPSTF issued the draft recommendation statement, “Hearing Loss in Older Adults: Screening” for individuals over the age of 50. Reviewing available evidence of the benefits and harm of screening, accuracy of screening tools, and benefits and harms of interventions for hearing loss identified through screening, USPSTF determined there is insufficient evidence to support a screening recommendation for asymptomatic older adults age 50 years and older.
More than 38 million individuals in the U.S. have untreated hearing loss, which is associated with multiple comorbidities, including cognitive and functional decline, falls, depression, reduced quality of life, and an increased number of emergency department visits and hospitalizations. Earlier identification of hearing loss and intervention can have positive long-term effects and may lead to better health outcomes and lower costs to society.
HIA submitted comments in response to the USPSTF draft recommendations, raising several concerns with the reliance on a study that is not reflective of the overall hearing loss population, and included multiple recommendations. HIA recommendations include support for:
The Fiscal Year 2022 Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill included report language requesting an accounting of current Federal funds allocated to hearing screening research.