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Hearing loss and dementia: an exploratory study of the views of audiologists

Nicola Wright (School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Theodore Stickley (School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Imran Mulla (The Ear Foundation, Nottingham, UK)
Edward Bradshaw (School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Laura Buckley (School of Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK)
Sue Archbold (The Ear Foundation, Nottingham, UK)

Quality in Ageing and Older Adults

ISSN: 1471-7794

Article publication date: 8 December 2014

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore audiologists, views and experiences of working with older adults with dementia.

Design/methodology/approach

An online survey was distributed to audiologists working in the UK NHS and private sector via their professional organisations. A total of 312 audiologists took part in the study. The survey collected both quantitative and qualitative data. Basic descriptive statistics summarised the quantitative responses. The qualitative data were analysed using conventional thematic approaches.

Findings

The quantitative data demonstrated that the vast majority of audiologists had treated someone with dementia (96 per cent). Despite this, 65 per cent of respondents did not feel adequately supported to help this service user population. Four overarching themes were used to explain the qualitative data: integrated and individualised care; formal (including training) vs experiential knowledge; the interaction between dementia and hearing and using the technology.

Research limitations/implications

The self-selecting nature of the sample is a limitation which needs to be taken into account when considering the transferability and implications of the findings.

Practical implications

Given the anticipated increase in rates of dementia within the population and the potential for hearing impairment to exacerbate the symptoms; this study highlights the unique role audiologists have. The need for more training and development for this professional group is also identified.

Originality/value

This is one of the first papers to explore audiologists, views and experiences of working with people with dementia. As such, it highlights some interesting areas worthy of further research using both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This project was funded by Cochlear Europe. The study design, implementation and analysis are the sole responsibility of the authors. The authors would also like to thank all of the participants who gave up their time to take part in this project.

Citation

Wright, N., Stickley, T., Mulla, I., Bradshaw, E., Buckley, L. and Archbold, S. (2014), "Hearing loss and dementia: an exploratory study of the views of audiologists", Quality in Ageing and Older Adults, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 220-231. https://doi.org/10.1108/QAOA-08-2014-0014

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited