What influences referral for mental health support in audiology clinics? A qualitative exploratory approach on barriers and facilitators

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Abstract

Objective: To explore the factors influencing mental health referrals for adults with hearing loss in an audiology clinic.
Design: A semi-structured focus group was used to elicit the views of hearing care professionals (HCPs) and administration staff regarding referral for mental health. Thematic analysis was used to extract themes and subthemes.
Study sample: Convenience sampling was used to recruit HCPs and administration staff (N = 12, Mage = 45 ± 12 years, 10 female) from a large hearing services provider in Western Australia.
Results: Three themes were identified: (1) recognising the need for referral, (2) the process of referring for mental health support, and (3) outcomes and consequences of referring clients for mental health support.
Conclusions: This study identified a wide range of factors influencing whether an audiology client is referred for mental health symptoms or not. Barriers to referral included knowledge and skills for identifying the need for referral; tools and time for discussing the next steps; and beliefs and awareness about the consequences of not referring clients for mental health support. Developing protocols, a unit for master of audiology, and continuing professional development (CPD) to assist HCPs in detecting the need for mental health referral were suggested by participants as possible methods to mitigate these barriers.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAdvances in Mental Health
Publication statusSubmitted - 5 Apr 2022

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