Singaporeans with hearing loss unwilling to seek treatment

by | March 14, 2023

Survey finds that work commitments and family as key motivators to seek treatment for hearing difficulties.


A senior using a cochlear implant.

Despite 90 percent of respondents ranking their hearing health as important or extremely important, less than one in four people in Singapore have taken a hearing test in last three years, a survey on Singapore’s attitudes and behaviour towards hearing health has found. Amongst those who recognise difficulties in their hearing, an overwhelming 76 percent are unwilling to seek treatment as they do not find their hearing problems to be consistent or severe enough.

The survey launched by Cochlear Limited who offers implantable hearing solutions reached a diverse sample of 1,000 respondents aged 35+ across Singapore to understand the population’s attitudes and perceptions towards hearing health care. Amongst the total base of respondents, the top two reasons that would make someone more likely to seek treatment for hearing difficulties was if it helped them to stay in the workforce longer, or if it would cause them to be less of a burden for their families.

These emotional barriers, atop of accepting hearing loss as a way of ageing, exist despite respondents recognising the negative impact of hearing difficulties on interpersonal relationships (53 percent), potential isolation from family and friends (32 percent) and withdrawal from social activities (26 percent). Families, friends and even workforce colleagues hence play a critical role in encouraging their loved ones to detect and treat hearing difficulties early, even if the problem might be small in the early stages.

The theme for this year’s World Hearing Day  focused on ‘Ear and hearing care for all’, concentrating on the importance of integrating ear and hearing care within primary care settings. The World Health Organization stated that ear and hearing health problems are among the most common problems encountered in the community, and of which at least 60 percent can be identified and addressed at the primary level of care.

The findings from Cochlear’s survey show that 57 percent of respondents report that they are very or extremely concerned about their hearing health; 25 percent of all respondents face difficulty hearing when there is noise in the background, with this figure rising to 36 percent amongst those above the age of 65. Respondents over the age of 65 are also significantly more likely to misunderstand others (24 percent vs 19 percent in total) or follow conversations when multiple people are talking (20 percent vs 12 percent in total).

Worryingly, 19 percent of respondents with hearing difficulties have been battling it for more than five years, with this proportion rising to 30 percent amongst those above the age of 65. Sixty-one percent of these respondents currently do not use any devices to help them hear better.

The survey also found that while more than two-thirds (68 percent) of survey respondents are positively inclined towards getting a hearing check-up, there were gaps in awareness of where to get one. Only 46 percent of those surveyed report that they have received good information and education from their family general practitioners (GPs) on their hearing health, and only 23 percent have had a hearing test during a GP checkup; this is less than half the number of respondents who had a vision test done by a GP in the same timeframe.

Of those facing hearing difficulties, just 24 percent have been in treatment or are seeking treatment. Thirty-four percent of those surveyed are still looking for suitable treatment, while 11 percent do not intend to seek treatment. A key stumbling block for 32 percent of those who have not sought help was identified as the lack of awareness around where and how to seek help.

In terms of understanding of hearing solutions available, it was found that over one-third (35 percent) of survey respondents were familiar with the term ‘cochlear implants’, especially highest amongst those who have sought treatment for hearing difficulties.

In the coming months, Cochlear will drive awareness about the value of hearing health to the public through its various channels on topics related to hearing loss and available solutions in the market.


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