The prevalence of hearing loss increases with age, starting with 27% in patients aged 60-69 years and rising to 80% in patients 80 years or older. Older adults are the most dependent users of the healthcare system, and a high prevalence of medical error is observed in this population. Failures in clinical communication are the leading cause of medical errors. We have shown previously that phonemic, content-related, and contextual factors can contribute to miscommunication and medical error in hospital settings in this patient cohort. Research is required to examine methods to provide effective communication to these patients.
The aim of this research is to design, implement, and evaluate an innovative expert-led and patient-led educational intervention to mitigate the effects of age-related hearing loss on communication in clinical settings. We will examine the effects of an innovative web-based educational programme focusing on content-and setting-related factors which act as barriers to communication involving older adults with hearing loss on healthcare providers (HCP) – as well as patient-reported outcomes. Previous studies on communication-targeted improvements involving this cohort have focused largely on technology-based solutions. The project will involve input from a cross-sectoral, interdisciplinary consortium of HCPs, experts, and older adults with hearing loss.
This project will raise awareness of the effects of sensory impairment on the quality of clinical communication and develop expert-led and patient-led solutions to ameliorate its negative impact on healthcare outcomes. It acknowledges the importance of public and patient involvement in research and is designed to promote health service outcomes-based research for the older population to further inform the appropriateness and quality of current services for older people. The results will provide HCPs with the means to work more productively with older adults with age-related hearing loss in routine medical care.