Comparative implementation-effectiveness of three strategies to perform hearing screening among older adults in primary care clinics: study design and protocol.
BACKGROUND: The burden of hearing loss among older adults could be mitigated with appropriate care. This study compares implementation of three hearing screening strategies in primary care, and examines the reliability and validity of patient self-assessment, primary care providers (PCP) and diagnostic audiologists in the identification of 'red flag' conditions (those conditions that may require medical consultation and/or intervention). METHODS: Six primary care practices will implement one of three screening strategies (2 practices per strategy) with 660 patients (220 per strategy) ages 65-75 years with no history of hearing aid use or diagnosis of hearing loss. Strategies differ on the location and use of PCP encouragement to complete a telephone-based hearing screen (tele-HS). Group 1: instructions for tele-HS to complete at home and educational materials on warning signs and consequences of hearing loss. Group 2: PCP counseling/encouragement on importance of hearing screening, instructions to take the tele-HS from home, educational materials. Group 3: PCP counseling/encouragement, in-office tele-HS, and educational materials. Patients from all groups who fail the tele-HS will be referred for diagnostic audiological testing and medical evaluation, and complete a self-assessment of red flag conditions at this follow-up appointment. Due to the expected low incidence of ear disease in the PCP cohort, we will enroll a complementary population of patients (N = 500) from selected otolaryngology head and neck surgery clinics in a national practice-based research network to increase the likelihood of occurrence of medical conditions that might contraindicate hearing aid fitting. The primary outcome is the proportion of patients who complete the tele-HS within 2 months of the PCP appointment comparing Group 3 (PCP encouragement, in-office tele-HS, education) versus Groups 2 and 1 (education and tele-HS at home, with and without PCP encouragement, respectively). The several secondary outcomes include direct and indirect costs, patient, family and provider attitudes of hearing healthcare, and accuracy of red flag condition evaluations compared with expert medical assessment by an otolaryngology provider. DISCUSSION: Determining the relative effectiveness of three different strategies for hearing screening in primary care and the assessment accuracy of red flag conditions can each lead to practice and policy changes that will reduce individual, family and societal burden from hearing loss among older adults. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinicaltrials.gov: NCT02928107; 10/10/2016 protocol version 1.
Bettger, JP; Dolor, RJ; Witsell, DL; Dubno, JR; Pieper, CF; Walker, AR; Silberberg, M; Schulz, KA; Majumder, P; Juhlin, E; Smith, SL; Francis, HW; Tucci, DL
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