Research identifies communities in greatest need of hearing health services

Jack Allum received a national award for his research into where hearing services are in greatest demand across Swansea Bay in Wales, UK, where he is an advanced audiology practitioner.

Allum carried out the research as part of his master’s degree at the University of Manchester. He found that audiology services were used the most by patients living in the most deprived areas throughout Swansea Bay, according to the Welsh Index of Multiple Deprivation (WIMD).

“I looked at all the adults that had accessed audiology services between 2017 and 2019. Using routine patient data, I was able to group patients by age and their level of deprivation using their date of birth and postcode”, Allum shared.

According to his findings, hearing loss is not only more prevalent but occurs at a younger age among people from more deprived backgrounds.

“Our observation that hearing loss is particularly prevalent at earlier ages among the most deprived is consistent with evidence that deprivation accelerates the aging process in general.”

Swansea Bay’s audiology department recently underwent a major transformation which will deliver quicker specialist access for patients by providing audiology services within primary care. The results of Allum’s research aided in the planning of the clinics, which are spread across Swansea and Neath Port Talbot.

Following successful trials, patients with hearing problems, such as tinnitus or problematic wax can now phone their GP surgery’s telephone triage system and book an appointment directly to see one of the primary care audiology teams at designated clinics.

Allum noted that “When we were planning the expansion it was really important to look at how we utilized the resources we had. We needed to make sure that access to the service was equitable, not just equal. Taking into consideration what my research showed, we have more clinics running in the areas we would expect to find a higher prevalence of hearing loss and therefore a greater need for hearing health service.”

Allum was also recognized for his research at the British Academy of Audiology’s annual conference in Manchester, and presented his research as a speaker on the conference’s second day.

“Jack is an influential part of the primary care audiology team. His keen interest in research is a great asset to our department and as this fantastic award demonstrates, also nationally. We are very proud to have had Jack carry out his training here at Swansea Bay and to progress to an advanced practitioner. He is a great inspiration to all his colleagues” shared Nicola Phillips, principal audiologist at Swansea Bay University Health Board.

Source: Swansea Bay University Health Board

Images: Swansea Bay University Health Board