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J Rehabil Res Dev. 2011;48(3):235-43.

Long-term cost-effectiveness of screening strategies for hearing loss.

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  • 1Center of Excellence for Health Services Research and Development, Department of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System, Seattle, WA 98101, USA.


Routine hearing screening can identify patients who are motivated to seek out and adhere to treatment, but little information exists on the cost-effectiveness of hearing screening in a general population of older veterans. We compared the cost-effectiveness of three screening strategies (tone-emitting otoscope, hearing handicap questionnaire, and both together) against no screening (control group) in 2,251 older veterans. The effectiveness measure for each group was the proportion of hearing aid use 1 year after screening. The audiology cost measure included costs of hearing loss screening and audiology care for 1 year after screening. Incremental cost-effectiveness was the audiology cost of additional hearing aid use for each screening group compared with the control group. The mean total audiology cost per patient was $77.04, $122.70, $121.37, and $157.08 for the control, otoscope, questionnaire, and dual screening groups, respectively. The tone-emitting otoscope appears to be the most cost-effective approach for hearing loss screening, with a significant increase in hearing aid use 1 year after screening (2.8%) and an insignificant incremental cost-effectiveness of $1,439.00 per additional hearing aid user compared with the control group. For this population of older veterans, screening for hearing loss with the tone-emitting otoscope is cost-effective.

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