The influence of culture on hearing help-seeking and hearing-aid uptake

Study

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In a recently published study, researchers from a number of countries looked into the question of understanding cultural differences in seeking help for hearing loss and in adopting hearing aids.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested that 90% of people with hearing loss could benefit from hearing aids. However, only a small proportion of them actually seek professional help for their condition. It is also known that there are cultural factors at play, with people in different countries having different rates of help-seeking and hearing aid-uptake. This is what prompted the group of researchers to review this aspect of the question.

The group included members from the UK, Sweden, China, and India. They discussed health-care systems, audiology services, and how they are used in the various countries represented. They also looked at theoretical approaches to understand how culture may affect hearing-related behaviors.

Results showed that different cultural value systems lead to different ways of perceiving and interpreting situations related to aging, disability, hearing loss, and hearing aid use. Specifically, negative stereotypes about aging and the perception of aging differ widely from one culture to another. The countries studied represented a broad spectrum on the individualism to collectivism scale, with the UK and Sweden being highly individual, and India and even more so China, showing collectivist attitudes. These factors are thought to moderate perceptions of health, disability, and disease, implying that cultural differences lead to different ways of perceiving and interpreting situations related to hearing loss and hearing aid use.

Source: Zhao F, et al. Exploring the influence of culture on hearing help-seeking and hearing-aid uptake. International Journal of Audiology 2015 Mar 11:1-9.

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