Digital proficiency is not a significant barrier for taking up hearing services with a hybrid online and face-to-face model

Husmita Ratanjee-Vanmali, De Wet Swanepoel, Ariane Laplante-Lévesque

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Purpose: The aim of this study was to determine the effect of self-perceived digital proficiency on the uptake of hearing services through a hybrid online and face-to-face hearing health care model. Method: Adults were recruited via online methods to complete an online hearing screening test within the greater Durban area in South Africa. On submission of contact details after failing the screening, contact was made via telephone to assess readiness for further hearing care. If motivated and willing to continue, a face-to-face appointment for diagnostic hearing testing was confirmed, at which time an e-mail with an online mobile device and computer proficiency survey was sent. Hearing services were offered using combined online and face-to-face methods. Results: Within 2 years (June 2017 to June 2019), 1,259 people from the target location submitted their details for the clinic audiologist to contact, of whom 931 participants (73.95%) failed the screening test. Of these participants, 5.69% (53/931, 57.41% men) attended a face-to-face diagnostic hearing evaluation. Mobile device and computer proficiency scores were not a predictor of acquiring hearing services. Age was the only significant predictor (p = .018) for those continuing with hearing care. Patients who continued with hearing care by acquiring hearing aids and support services were older (M = 73.63 years, SD = 11.62) and on average aware of their hearing loss for a longer time (M = 14.71 years, SD = 15.77), as compared to those who discontinued hearing health care who were younger (M = 59.21 years, SD = 14.42) and on average aware of their hearing loss for a shorter time (M = 6.37 years, SD = 9.26). Conclusions: Digital proficiency is not a predictor for acquiring hearing services through a hybrid online and face-to-face hearing care model. Hybrid services could allow professionals to assist patients in a combination of face-to-face and online services tailored to meet individual needs, including convenience and personalized care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)785-808
Number of pages24
JournalAmerican Journal of Audiology
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

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