Global use and outcomes of the hearWHO mHealth hearing test

Karina C. De Sousa, Cas Smits, David R. Moore, Shelly Chada, Herman Myburgh, De Wet Swanepoel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives The objective of this study was to examine the uptake, user characteristics, and performance of the free WHO smartphone hearing screening test (hearWHO) as a global hearing health promotion initiative. Method We retrospectively examined the data of 242 626 tests conducted by adults (> 18 years) on the hearWHO app between February 2019 and May 2021. Test uptake was evaluated by country, WHO world region, test date, and demographics of age and gender. Results The hearWHO test was completed in nearly every country globally (n = 179/195), with the greatest uptake seen in China and India. Uptake was greatest in the Western Pacific (32.9%) and European (24.8%) WHO regions. There was a high uptake of tests (44%) by young adults under the age of 30 years. Referral rates were typically higher for older age groups in most WHO regions, except for the African and Eastern Mediterranean regions, where overall hearWHO test uptake was lowest. Most testing (49%) took place in March (2019-2021) coinciding with World Hearing Day (3rd of March) each year. Conclusions Digital mhealth tools provide many benefits in healthcare, including health promotion, access to information, and services for hearing loss. The hearWHO test was mainly reaching younger adults, positioning it as an important measure for public health advocacy to prevent hearing loss. Since hearing loss is primarily age related, more targeted campaigns or community-based initiatives should be directed toward older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Article number20552076221113204
Number of pages9
JournalDigital Health
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


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