Timing and impact of hearing healthcare in adult cochlear implant recipients: A rural-urban comparison

Brian Hixon, Stephen Chan, Margaret Adkins, Jennifer B. Shinn, Matthew L. Bush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this study is to compare the timing and impact of hearing healthcare of rural and urban adults with severe hearing loss who use cochlear implants (CI). Study Design: Cross-sectional questionnaire study. Setting: Tertiary referral center. Patients: Adult cochlear implant recipients. Main Outcome Measures: Data collected included county of residence, socioeconomic information, impact of hearing loss on education/employment, and timing of hearing loss treatment. The benefits obtained from cochlear implantation were also evaluated. Results: There were 91 participants (32 from urban counties, 26 from moderately rural counties, and 33 for extremely rural counties). Rural participants have a longer commute time to the CI center ( p<0.001), lower income ( p<0.001), and higher percentage of Medicaid coverage ( p=0.004). Compared with urban-metro participants, rural participants with gradually progressive hearing loss had a greater time interval from the onset of hearing loss to obtaining hearing aid amplification (10 yr versus 5 yr, p=0.04). There was also a greater time interval from onset of hearing loss to the time of cochlear implantation in rural participants ( p=0.04). Reported job loss was higher in rural participants than in urban participants ( p=0.05). Both groups reported comparable benefit from cochlear implantation. Conclusion: Rural CI recipients differ from urban residents in socioeconomic characteristics and may be delayed in timely treatment of hearing loss. Further efforts to expand access to hearing healthcare services may benefit rural adult patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1320-1324
Number of pages5
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the University of Kentucky Center for Clinical and Translational Science (UL1TR000117) (S.C.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Otology & Neurotology, Inc.


  • Adult hearing loss
  • Cochlear implantation
  • Rural health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology


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