Do Some Florida Counties Have Improper Access to Audiology Services?
Nova Southeastern University
Devon Durham, BS
Julia Toman, MD
Victoria Sanchez, AuD, PhD.
It is estimated that 15% of American adults aged 18 and over report some trouble hearing.1 Hearing loss in the US is increasing as the population grows older and youth hearing loss increases- with the most recent data suggesting a 4.6% increase from 1988-2006.1 Age is the strongest predictor of hearing loss, but gender and ethnicity also seem to play a role with non-white Hispanics having higher reports of hearing loss.1 Access to proper hearing healthcare is vital to prevent complications such as cognitive decline, dementia, social isolation, increased rates of hospitalization and increased healthcare costs.2 To our knowledge, there is limited data on access to proper hearing healthcare in the US and practically none in the state of Florida.
The objective of this study is to determine the distribution of hearing loss across all 67 Florida counties as well as access to hearing healthcare.
Hearing health data was collected for adults over the age of 18 from Florida Health Charts in 2020. Social and demographic data was collected using County Health Rankings and Roadmaps for each Florida county from 2018-2021, depending on the variable. Data analysis was performed using JMP 16.2.0.
The mean hearing loss for adults 18 and older for the 67 Florida counties is 17.5% (95% CI 16.5, 18.6). We further divided hearing loss for adults 18-64, with a mean of 2.4 (95% CI 2.2,2.6), and adults 65 and older, with a mean of 15.2 (95% CI 14.2,16.1). The mean active audiology license for each county is 21.5 (95% CI 12.9, 30.1). Florida Health Charts does not provide ethnicity data counts for adults with hearing loss, however, there was no significant difference in rates of hearing loss in all counties with varying ethnicity rates. Moreover, there is a significant difference in active audiology license in counties with higher rates of Asians (p-value 0.015). There is also a significant decrease in the amount of active audiologist license in counties with higher percentage of rural population (p-value
To determine the distribution of hearing loss across all 67 Florida counties as well as access to hearing healthcare.