A recent article published in the Journal of American Geriatric Society reviewed numerous research reports to determine the extent to which hearing loss among elderly individuals is considered when studying physician-patient communication.
Building a good physician-patient relationship is an integral part of medical management. Establishing effective communication is important for the physician and patient to be able to clearly convey critical information. Hearing loss is a common condition observed among the elderly population and may serve as an obstacle in establishing a good interaction between the patient and the physician.
In an article published in the Journal of American Geriatric Society, a group of researchers conducted a systematic literature review exploring the effects of hearing loss on the establishment of physician-patient communication. Researchers reviewed a total of 67 articles, dated from January 1, 2000 to December 31, 2016, which included patients of at least 60 years of age and measured verbal in-person communication between physicians and patients in a healthcare setting. The following outcomes were measured: 1) general quality of physician-patient communication, 2) shared decision-making and patient-centred approach, 3) patient knowledge, 4) healthcare outcomes, and 5) specific content during physician-patient conversations.
The results show that of 67 articles reviewed, only 16 studies (23.9%) mentioned hearing loss. Six studies just mentioned the term hearing loss, 3 mentioned hearing loss as part of the exclusion criteria, 3 reported on the association between hearing loss and physician-patient interaction, and only 1 study included an intervention to determine whether mitigating hearing loss would affect physician-patient communication.
The results of the study suggest that hearing loss in the elderly population is not frequently mentioned or taken into consideration when studying physician-patient communication. This may affect the validity of some studies, since hearing loss may be considered a confounder and indirectly contribute to the results obtained. Future studies should recognize the importance of hearing loss in establishing good, productive communication.
Written By: Karla Sevilla