Adult-onset hearing loss is one of the most prevalent causes of disability. 1 in 6 Australians are living with hearing loss and it is predicted to rise to 1 in 4 by 2050. Despite its high prevalence, adult-onset hearing loss is largely an under-recognised health problem.
Hearing loss can have a substantial impact on communication. Treating hearing loss typically focuses solely on auditory and speech outcomes. However, hearing loss can also have a substantial effect on psychological wellbeing, quality of life, social connectedness, relationships, and economic independence. A public health approach is needed that seeks to promote health by having a better understanding of how these other important aspects of life are associated with the different hearing intervention and rehabilitation pathways.
To do this, Professor Bamini Gopinath (pictured), Cochlear Chair in Hearing and Health at Macquarie University, is leading a multidisciplinary team on the Hearing impairment in Adults: Longitudinal Outcomes Study (HALOS). HALOS is an internationally unique study of 900+ adults aged 40 years and over with hearing loss who use cochlear implants and/or hearing aids. The study will collect data on a broad range of outcomes including health, quality of life, cognitive health, mental wellbeing, independence, employment, and interpersonal relationships.
Prof Gopinath says, “Our team will drive this research to better understand how existing hearing interventions and technologies address the needs of adults with hearing loss. Given the many challenges faced by people with a hearing loss, it is imperative to better understand how hearing interventions impact health and social outcomes, and the patient’s perspective of the hearing care pathway and delivery of hearing services.”
Participants in the study will complete a survey that will collect data on a broad range of health, psychosocial, and functional outcomes and hearing-related measures. The HALOS research team will use the data from HALOS to help inform clinical practice, improve delivery of hearing health services, and inform policy.
HALOS is currently looking for volunteers to participate in the study – adults aged 40 years +, wearing a hearing aid and/or cochlear implant in at least one ear. Participants will be reimbursed for their participation.