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USPSTF: Evidence Lacking for Screening Seniors for Hearing Loss

TUESDAY, March 23, 2021 -- The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) concludes that current evidence is insufficient to examine the balance of benefits and harms of screening for hearing loss in asymptomatic older adults. These findings form the basis of a final recommendation statement published in the March 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Cynthia Feltner, M.D., M.P.H., from RTI International-University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Evidence-Based Practice Center in Research Triangle Park, and colleagues conducted a systematic review on screening for hearing loss in adults aged 50 years and older. Data were included from 41 studies with 26,386 participants. The researchers found that in one trial with 2,305 U.S. veterans that examined the benefits of screening, there was no significant difference in the proportion of participants experiencing a minimum clinically important difference in hearing-related function at one year (36 to 40 percent in the screened group versus 36 percent in the nonscreened group). Single-question screening had pooled sensitivity and specificity of 66 and 76 percent, respectively, for detecting mild hearing loss and pooled sensitivity and specificity of 80 and 74 percent, respectively, for detecting moderate hearing loss.

Based on these findings, the USPSTF concluded that the evidence is currently insufficient for evaluating the benefits and harms of hearing loss screening in asymptomatic adults aged 50 years or older (I statement).

"Given the insufficient evidence, clinicians should use their judgement to determine whether or not to screen older adult patients for hearing loss," task force member Chien-Wen Tseng, M.D., M.P.H., said in a statement. "Importantly, if a person has concerns about their hearing, they should talk to their health care provider to get the care they need."

Evidence Report

Final Recommendation Statement

Editorial 1

Editorial 2

Editorial 3

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