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Prevalence of hearing loss at primary health care clinics in South Africa

Christine Louw
De Wet Swanepoel
Robert H Eikelboom
Jannie Hugo


Background: Hearing loss prevalence data in South Africa is scarce, especially within primary health care settings.
Objectives: To determine; (i) the prevalence of hearing disorders in patients ≥3 years of age attending two primary health care clinics, and (ii) the nature and characteristics of hearing disorders at these primary health care clinics.
Method: A cross-sectional design was used at two primary health care clinics. Non-probability purposive sampling was used to screen participants at clinics for hearing loss with pure tone audiometry. A total of 1236 participants were screened (mean age 37.8 ±17.9 years). Diagnostic testing was available for confirmation of hearing loss on participants who failed the screening.
Results: Hearing loss prevalence was 17.5% across both clinics. Most hearing losses were bilateral (70.0%) and were of a sensorineural nature (84.2%).
Conclusion: Hearing loss prevalence was comparable at both primary health care clinics. Participants 40 years and older were at significantly higher risk for hearing loss. The current study is the first attempt to establish hearing loss prevalence for primary health care clinics in South Africa.

Keywords: Hearing loss, primary health care clinics, South Africa.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1729-0503
print ISSN: 1680-6905