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Baycrest-Led Audiology Study Finds Screening Memory Clinic Patients for Hearing Loss Helps in Physicians’ Management of Important Risk Factors for Dementia

Toronto, ON, Canada – A new study led by a Baycrest clinician-scientist titled “Enhancing Clinical Visibility of Hearing Loss in Cognitive Decline” demonstrates that point of care screening for hearing loss in patients of a memory clinic raised physicians’ awareness of its high prevalence among their patients and led to more frequent referrals for hearing help. The study is published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.

Marilyn Reed, Practice Advisor with Baycrest’s Department of Audiology and the study’s lead author, noted that “hearing loss is highly prevalent among older adults, yet goes largely unreported, unidentified, and untreated, at great cost to their health and quality of life.” However, screening for hearing loss is not typically recommended by physicians for older adults. As such, the study set out to demonstrate the feasibility and value of hearing screening for older adults at risk for dementia, in order to enhance physicians’ awareness of hearing loss and improve access to timely hearing care.

For this study, participant-patients of two academic medical clinics for memory disorders, the Baycrest Sam & Ida Ross Memory Clinic and the Bruyère Memory Program, were offered hearing screening as part of clinical protocol. Screening took place in-office, pre-pandemic, with a tablet-based automated screening tool and online at home, when pandemic precautions prevented in-person consultations and research. Patients with hearing loss were recruited to the study if they consented to a post-appointment telephone interview and chart review. Memory clinic physicians were surveyed about the usefulness of the screening information and referral of patients with hearing loss to audiology.

The study found that hearing loss could be reliably detected in most memory clinic patients tested, with both in-office and online screening tools. Physicians reported that screening enhanced their awareness of hearing loss and helped them decide if a referral to audiology was needed.

In all, the study determined that hearing screening in memory clinic patients is a useful component of clinic protocol that facilitates timely access to hearing management and addresses an important risk factor for dementia.


Full study
: “Enhancing Clinical Visibility of Hearing Loss in Cognitive Decline” by Marilyn Reed, Morris Freedman, Amy E. Mark Fraser, Matthew Bromwich, Anna Theresa Santiago, Christina Elizabeth Gallucci, and Andrew Frank (DOI: 10.3233/JAD-215377), published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease, Volume 86, Issue 1 (March 2021). The article is available online at: content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad215377.

To request the full text of the article or further information please contact Diana Murray, IOS Press (d.murray@iospress.com, +1 7186405678). To reach the authors for comment, please approach the media contact at Baycrest: Orsolya Soos (osoos@baycrest.org, +1 64788395150).

About Baycrest
Baycrest is a global leader in geriatric residential living, healthcare, research, innovation and education, with a special focus on brain health and aging. Baycrest is home to a robust research and innovation network, including one of the world’s top research institutes in cognitive neuroscience, the Rotman Research Institute; the scientific headquarters of the Canadian Consortium on Neurodegeneration in Aging, Canada’s largest national dementia research initiative; and the Baycrest-powered Centre for Aging + Brain Health Innovation, a solution accelerator focused on driving innovation in the aging and brain health sector. Fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, Baycrest provides excellent care for older adults combined with an extensive clinical training program for the next generation of healthcare professionals. baycrest.org

About Bruyère 
Bruyère provides a wide range of health services within its hospitals and long-term care facilities in Ottawa. As an academic healthcare organization, Bruyère specializes in care of the elderly through rehabilitation, palliative care, brain health, and complex continuing care. The Bruyère Research Institute supports investigators who contribute to a better, more responsive healthcare system that delivers the best care to patients, residents, and families. bruyere.org

About the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 
Now in its 24th year of publication, the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease (JAD) is an international multidisciplinary journal to facilitate progress in understanding the etiology, pathogenesis, epidemiology, genetics, behavior, treatment, and psychology of Alzheimer’s disease. The journal publishes research reports, reviews, short communications, book reviews, and letters-to-the-editor. Groundbreaking research that has appeared in the journal includes novel therapeutic targets, mechanisms of disease, and clinical trial outcomes. JAD has a Journal Impact Factor of 4.472 according to Journal Citation Reports (Clarivate, 2021). The journal is published by IOS Press. j-alz.com

About IOS Press
IOS Press is headquartered in Amsterdam with satellite offices in the USA, Germany, India and China and serves the information needs of scientific and medical communities worldwide. IOS Press now publishes more than 90 international peer-reviewed journals and about 70 book titles each year on subjects ranging from computer science, artificial intelligence, and engineering to medicine, neuroscience, and cancer research. iospress.com