Hearing Healthcare Assessment in Rural Communities (HHARC)

Grants and Contracts Details


Hearing loss in adults is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States with a prevalence of over 20% in younger adults and over 40% in older adults in the United States. Untreated hearing loss causes a measurable impact on health and social, occupational, and emotional well-being of adults. Only 26% of adults have had a diagnostic hearing test within the past 5 years and delayed hearing loss diagnosis and treatment may lead to communication impairment with profound effects on education, employment, and overall health. The prevalence of hearing loss is higher among adults living in rural communities compared with those in urban settings; furthermore, rural adults with hearing loss may never receive treatment or may be delayed in diagnosis and/or treatment compared with urban adults. Rural health clinics (RHC’s) represent a federally designated health system care tasked with providing primary care within a rural and underserved communities; however, hearing healthcare services have not been significant component of RHC care delivery. The goal of this study is to assess the utilization of hearing healthcare among rural adults through RHC’s with the R21 phase of the program and then develop a culturally responsive RHC patient navigation program (PNP) to promote utilization of hearing healthcare. To conduct this study, we will partner with 10 high-need under-resourced RHC’s within rural Appalachian Kentucky and utilize the PRECEDE-PROCEED model (PPM) to systematically assess the rural adult hearing health and healthcare priorities, needs, and resources. During the R21 phase we will 1) conduct a social and epidemiological assessment of rural adult hearing health and 2) assess the organizational and environmental factors influencing hearing health delivery and utilization in RHC’s. The milestones of the R21 include the determination of the prevalence of hearing loss and hearing healthcare utilization in rural adults, establishment of rural adult hearing healthcare priorities, development of a community advisory board and a rural provider taskforce. During the R33 phase we will 1) develop of a community-based hearing health patient navigation program for RHCs and 2) pilot test the rural hearing health navigation program. The milestones of the R33 phase include the development of a PNP protocol and an assessment of the feasibility, acceptability, and appropriateness of the PNP. This study is significant because it aims to reduce access to care barriers to timely diagnostic hearing testing for rural adults to prevent negative consequences. This research is innovative in development and pilot testing of a novel intervention not previously assessed in hearing healthcare within an RHC setting. Our results will impact the field by partnering with communities to inform the development and delivery of this and other innovative patient supportive interventions to improve rural hearing healthcare access and affordability.
Effective start/end date8/4/217/31/23


  • National Institute on Deafness & Other Communications: $418,416.00


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