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New Poll of U.S. Adults Reveals Widespread Inaction on Hearing Loss | NEWS-Line for Women's Health Specialists

New Poll of U.S. Adults Reveals Widespread Inaction on Hearing Loss


With hearing loss ranking as one of the most common chronic health conditions that U.S. adults experience, affecting an estimated 48 million people nationwide, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) released new polling results that reveal an overwhelming disconnect between the high value that Americans say they place on their hearing and their low willingness to be treated for any hearing loss. The findings are being made public in tandem with the launch of a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign—Act Now on Hearing—as the nation recognizes Better Hearing & Speech Month this May.

The poll of a nationally representative sample of nearly 2,500 U.S. adults ages 18 and older was commissioned by ASHA and conducted by YouGov in mid-March 2021. The following stats are among its key findings:

80% of Americans say maintaining their hearing heath is extremely important or very important to their quality of life.

Yet, only 2 in 10 (20%) adults have had a hearing test in the past 5 years, compared with roughly 6 in 10 (61%) who have had their vision tested.

More than half (51%) of all adults reported having hearing problems, but only 11% of those respondents have sought treatment.

More than three-quarters (78%) of those with hearing problems have had these difficulties for 1 or more years—and over one third (35%) have had trouble for 5 or more years.

A 42% plurality of Americans understand that mild hearing loss can impact a person’s life or daily functioning. Yet, more than half of those with untreated hearing problems (56%) say that they would be unlikely to treat it unless it was “severe.”

“These results are extremely concerning,” said A. Lynn Williams, PhD, CCC-SLP, 2021 ASHA President. “We know, and are consistently learning more, about how untreated hearing loss can not only impact a person’s quality of life and mental health, but that it can also be associated with cognitive decline, dementia, preventable hospitalizations, and more. This inaction on hearing health is especially unfortunate because there are effective treatment options that can enable adults with hearing loss to live fuller and more satisfying lives.”

Some other noteworthy poll findings include the following:

64% say they would be “much more” or “more” likely to seek treatment for hearing difficulties if they knew it could help lower the risk of developing dementia later in life.

44% of employed adults worry that hearing loss would reduce their effectiveness at work—and 37% worry that it could hurt their ability to remain employed.

Americans are much more likely to seek treatment if a loved one encourages them to do so—roughly 6 in 10 said that they would likely seek help if either their spouse/partner (59%) or child (61%) asked them to.

PSA Campaign Urges Timely Action

In the wake of these results, ASHA’s consumer affiliate, the National Association for Hearing and Speech Action (NAHSA), is launching Act Now on Hearing. By launching this PSA campaign, NAHSA intends to encourage the public to take action, once and for all, on their hearing difficulties by visiting a certified audiologist for a hearing evaluation. The PSA illustrates how hearing may decline gradually over a long period of time—further disconnecting us from moments we treasure, such as interactions with a grandchild. It will air nationwide for at least a year, driving the public to www.ActNowonHearing.com to learn the signs of hearing loss and to find care from a certified audiologist.

For more information, visit the PSA campaign’s website, or visit the ASHA website at www.asha.org/public

Source: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

Methodology: All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,439 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between March 16, 2021, and March 23, 2021. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all U.S. adults (aged 18+).

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)

ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 218,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders. http://www.asha.org/


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