Finished | Hearing and human behaviour

Identifying the tipping points for hearing help seeking

Project Goals 

  1. To identify the information sources, sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle, and clinical history that led people to contact Hearing Australia clinics for hearing assessment 
  1. To identify clinical recommendations to people with normal hearing measures 


The key factors that lead people to make hearing help seeking decisions are identified.  A research tool was developed to examine mentions of the factors influencing a “tipping point” for a help seeking decisions in free-text clinical notes. The feasibility of the tool was tested in clinical notes of a sample of 97 people with normal hearing measures who visited a Hearing Australia clinic for first hearing assessment. The three major self-identified tipping point factors to seeking help were ‘limitations in daily life due to hearing problem’, ‘tinnitus’ and ‘non-hearing problems’ (e.g., vertigo, infection, exostosis). Nearly ten percent of all identified factors to seek help was feedback received about the person’s hearing ability by family and friends. Clinical decisions and recommendations by audiologists were also identified in the sample of clinical notes of people with normal hearing measures. The three main clinical decisions and recommendations were ‘report to GP’, ‘monitoring/regular review’ and ‘hearing aid use’. Hearing aids were recommended to 25% of the sample of clients with normal hearing measures. Communication and tinnitus management strategies were recommended to 18% and 11% of the sample respectively.  

A survey questionnaire was also developed and tested among adult participants in three clinic waiting rooms. The survey participants with different levels of hearing loss were influenced by external motivations to contact a clinic for hearing help seeking, including recommendations from GPs and other health professionals, impact of hearing problem on family/friends and suggestions by family/friends for having hearing assessment.  Most survey participants with some level of hearing loss believed that their hearing difficulties impact their mood (feeling frustrated, sad, angry, lonely) and social interactions.  Impact of hearing loss on social interactions was more reported in people with severe/profound hearing loss than those with mild/moderate hearing loss. Almost all survey participants believed that hearing assessment is helpful in managing their hearing difficulties.  

The results of this study raised two questions for future research:  

  1. What kind of behavioural messages can be used to influence people’s social networks to promote hearing help seeking? 
  1. What can be done by audiologists to assist people who seek help for hearing difficulties and are assessed as being in normal hearing range?