“Can You Hear me Now?” The Question Doctors need to Ask..

May 25, 2020

Communication Tips for Doctors of Patients with Hearing Loss

Hearing loss is a growing problem; people with hearing loss often have difficulty hearing and understanding their doctor’s questions and/or instructions.

Doctors are rushed off their feet at times and may speak too quickly, making it difficult for a patient with hearing loss to follow what their GP is saying to them.

According to an article in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, studies to determine how well doctors communicate with their patients don’t consider people with hearing loss. 

The senior author, Dr Joshua Chodosh of NYU Langone Medical Centre in New York City, had this to say: “This is one of the many things in geriatric medicine that I call low hanging fruit. There are very simple things we can do to make a difference.”

Chodosh and his colleagues examined data from 67 different studies conducted between 2000 and 2016.  

All the studies measured verbal communication between doctor and patient, but only three of them actually examined any link between hearing loss and doctor/patient communication.When the study actually addressed the issue of how hearing loss affects doctor/patient communication and encouraged implementation of hearing aid devices, it was found that the level of patient dissatisfaction in ability to communicate with their doctor went from 22% to 6%.

Chodosh went on to say: “For a long time, I’ve been aware that we don’t pay attention to this enough in clinical medicine. It’s a prevalent problem, whether it’s in the hospital or the clinic.”

Researchers are trying to educate doctors on the importance of improving communication with their hearing-impaired patients. Doctors are being advised and encouraged to minimise background noise, speak more slowly, face patients while speaking and having printed educational material available. 

As for patients, ensure your doctor is aware of your hearing loss at the start of your appointment. If your doctor speaks too quickly or you are having trouble hearing them, don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know you can’t hear.  Your doctor is there to help you.

More information on the treatment of hearing loss and their treatments is available here.

More interesting information on hearing loss is available here.

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