The study was designed to assess the impact of hearing impairment on communication between older hospital patients and medical staff and to see whether intervention to improve hearing influences perceived communication. Structured interviews were held with 200 mentally alert elderly hospital in-patients before and after the introduction of voice amplifiers and acetate cards depicting a hearing problem. Prior to intervention 22% of patients rated communication with their doctor as poor or unsatisfactory. Following intervention there was a significant improvement (Chi-square p=0.006), with only 6% of patients reporting communication with their doctor as poor or unsatisfactory. Most of the patients who felt communication was unsatisfactory could not hear what was being said. We conclude that simple measures can improve the number of older patients hearing what their doctor says and improve their perception of communication with the hospital doctor.
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