Add like
Add dislike
Add to saved papers

Socioeconomic and ethnic disparities associated with access to cochlear implantation for severe-to-profound hearing loss: A multicentre observational study of UK adults.

PLoS Medicine 2024 April
BACKGROUND: Patients with severe-to-profound hearing loss may benefit from management with cochlear implants. These patients need a referral to a cochlear implant team for further assessment and possible surgery. The referral pathway may result in varied access to hearing healthcare. This study aimed to explore referral patterns and whether there were any socioeconomic or ethnic associations with the likelihood of referral. The primary outcome was to determine factors influencing referral for implant assessment. The secondary outcome was to identify factors impacting whether healthcare professionals had discussed the option of referral.

METHODS AND FINDINGS: A multicentre multidisciplinary observational study was conducted in secondary care Otolaryngology and Audiology units in Great Britain. Adults fulfilling NICE (2019) audiometric criteria for implant assessment were identified over a 6-month period between 1 July and 31 December 2021. Patient- and site-specific characteristics were extracted. Multivariable binary logistic regression was employed to compare a range of factors influencing the likelihood of implant discussion and referral including patient-specific (demographics, past medical history, and degree of hearing loss) and site-specific factors (cochlear implant champion and whether the hospital performed implants). Hospitals across all 4 devolved nations of the UK were invited to participate, with data submitted from 36 urban hospitals across England, Scotland, and Wales. Nine hospitals (25%) conducted cochlear implant assessments. The majority of patients lived in England (n = 5,587, 86.2%); the rest lived in Wales (n = 419, 6.5%) and Scotland (n = 233, 3.6%). The mean patient age was 72 ± 19 years (mean ± standard deviation); 54% were male, and 75·3% of participants were white, 6·3% were Asian, 1·5% were black, 0·05% were mixed, and 4·6% were self-defined as a different ethnicity. Of 6,482 submitted patients meeting pure tone audiometric thresholds for cochlear implantation, 311 already had a cochlear implant. Of the remaining 6,171, 35.7% were informed they were eligible for an implant, but only 9.7% were referred for assessment. When adjusted for site- and patient-specific factors, stand-out findings included that adults were less likely to be referred if they lived in more deprived area decile within Indices of Multiple Deprivation (4th (odds ratio (OR): 2·19; 95% confidence interval (CI): [1·31, 3·66]; p = 0·002), 5th (2·02; [1·21, 3·38]; p = 0·05), 6th (2·32; [1·41, 3·83]; p = 0.05), and 8th (2·07; [1·25, 3·42]; p = 0·004)), lived in London (0·40; [0·29, 0·57]; p < 0·001), were male (females 1·52; [1·27, 1·81]; p < 0·001), or were older (0·97; [0·96, 0·97]; p < 0·001). They were less likely to be informed of their potential eligibility if they lived in more deprived areas (4th (1·99; [1·49, 2·66]; p < 0·001), 5th (1·75; [1·31, 2·33], p < 0·001), 6th (1·85; [1·39, 2·45]; p < 0·001), 7th (1·66; [1·25, 2·21]; p < 0·001), and 8th (1·74; [1·31, 2·31]; p < 0·001) deciles), the North of England or London (North 0·74; [0·62, 0·89]; p = 0·001; London 0·44; [0·35, 0·56]; p < 0·001), were of Asian or black ethnic backgrounds compared to white patients (Asian 0·58; [0·43, 0·79]; p < 0·001; black 0·56; [0·34, 0·92]; p = 0·021), were male (females 1·46; [1·31, 1·62]; p < 0·001), or were older (0·98; [0·98, 0·98]; p < 0·001). The study methodology was limited by its observational nature, reliance on accurate documentation of the referring service, and potential underrepresentation of certain demographic groups.

CONCLUSIONS: The majority of adults meeting pure tone audiometric threshold criteria for cochlear implantation are currently not appropriately referred for assessment. There is scope to target underrepresented patient groups to improve referral rates. Future research should engage stakeholders to explore the reasons behind the disparities. Implementing straightforward measures, such as educational initiatives and automated pop-up tools for immediate identification, can help streamline the referral process.

Full text links

We have located links that may give you full text access.
Can't access the paper?
Try logging in through your university/institutional subscription. For a smoother one-click institutional access experience, please use our mobile app.

Related Resources

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

Mobile app image

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app

All material on this website is protected by copyright, Copyright © 1994-2024 by WebMD LLC.
This website also contains material copyrighted by 3rd parties.

By using this service, you agree to our terms of use and privacy policy.

Your Privacy Choices Toggle icon

You can now claim free CME credits for this literature searchClaim now

Get seemless 1-tap access through your institution/university

For the best experience, use the Read mobile app