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Education Intervention on 'Hearing Impairment - Its Assessment and Management' among Medical Practitioners in Sikkim, India.

BACKGROUND: Health care providers must be aware of the choices in aural rehabilitation methods and assessment procedures available presently to those with hearing impairment in order to facilitate early identification and intervention and ensure quality of care to those hearing impaired individuals. The referrals from the medical fraternities for the audiological services are not uniform across India. Part of reason may be that awareness about the roles of and responsibilities of audiologist's is poor among medical practitioners. In some regions of India medical practitioners may be only grossly be aware of audiologists per se. They may not know enough to refer all individuals with hearing or balance disorders for the required audiological services.

AIM: To evaluate changes in pre survey and post survey after education intervention specifically planned for medical practitioners in the state of Sikkim, India. Education intervention included awareness about hearing impairment and its assessment and management by audiologists.

METHOD: A pre and post survey comparison research design with purposive convenient sampling technique was applied. Participants were medical practitioners working in geographical area of Sikkim at the time of the study. Inspection of demographic data of respondents showed that they were in their age range of 24 and 60 years and with work experience ranging 1-40 years. Participants were invited for an awareness talk which included, information about hearing loss, early identification and early intervention, tests and management of hearing loss in different age groups, need for hearing aids/cochlear implants, auditory training, and the role of an audiologist in the management of hearing loss and ways to prevent hearing loss. A pre and post awareness program responses were collected from all the participants using a customized questionnaire tool.

RESULTS: Respondents exhibited, in the pre-survey questionnaire, lack of awareness in many aspects of audiology, including assessing hearing impairment, diagnosing hearing loss, and the role of an audiologist. There was an overall, statistically significant difference in the level of performance on the pre-awareness and post-awareness responses.

CONCLUSION: Following an awareness campaign among the medical professionals in Sikkim, there was a considerable change in their level of awareness of hearing impairment, its assessment, and management by audiologists. The reach of the awareness campaign was significant as around 70% of subjects showed significant change in their knowledge and attitude towards hearing impairment, its management.

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