When you think about “public health,” what comes to mind? Maybe you think of immunization programs, community health centers, or healthcare designed for underserved populations or low-income groups. Perhaps you think about the responsibility to provide clean water and safe environments.
How does audiology fit into public health? Although you may not immediately think of audiology as a core component of public health, you certainly know, as a hearing healthcare professional, that proper hearing healthcare is essential to the health of the community.
The necessity of audiology in public health is largely due to the fact that hearing healthcare impacts so many important aspects of an individual’s life and directly affect their contributions to society. A person with untreated hearing impairment is less likely to succeed in education settings or to have strong future employment opportunities. Those with untreated hearing loss also typically have a lower overall quality of life. Individuals with hearing loss may experience social isolation, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and more.
It is also important to note that untreated hearing loss is linked to a number of other health problems, including dementia and cognitive decline, falls, depression, and anxiety. Untreated hearing loss and insufficient public access to quality hearing healthcare can lead to further health problems, poor education, limited employment opportunities, lower economic status, and a withdrawal from social activity. Hearing loss can also cause issues in friendships, family relationships, and marriages. All of these relationships and establishments are important to the overall community and can lead to broken links in society.
The strong connection between audiology and public health has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO). In May 2016, the World Health Assembly (WHA) resolution called on the WHO to prepare a World Report on Hearing (WRH) for the 73rd World Health Assembly. In addition to highlighting any shifts in global hearing loss distribution, the WRH is expected to bring attention to priorities and best practices for ear and hearing care. One goal is to bring a greater focus to guiding public health efforts in addressing the need for advocacy of ear and hearing care.
The 73rd World Health Assembly will take place in May 2020. Until then, it is unknown which particular points will be brought forward in the World Report on Hearing. However, it is certain that the WRH will address how audiology fits into public health and how greater access to quality hearing healthcare care can impact global public health.
As a hearing specialist yourself, you understand the strong link between hearing health, overall well-being, and public health. With a focus on high-quality, individual patient care that is becoming increasingly affordable and accessible, hearing healthcare professionals will certainly play a growing role in ensuring public health.
To learn more about how audiology fits into public health and how you can establish your practice’s role in improving public health and awareness, we invite you to contact us at AudiologyPlus today. We look forward to helping your practice grow and succeed.