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Long-term cost-effectiveness of screening strategies for hearing loss.

Liu CF, Collins MP, Souza PE, Yueh B. Long-term cost-effectiveness of screening strategies for hearing loss. Journal of rehabilitation research and development. 2011 Jan 1; 48(3):235-43.

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Routine hearing screening can identify patients who are motivated to seek out and adhere to treatment, but little information exists on the cost-effectiveness of hearing screening in a general population of older veterans. We compared the cost-effectiveness of three screening strategies (tone-emitting otoscope, hearing handicap questionnaire, and both together) against no screening (control group) in 2,251 older veterans. The effectiveness measure for each group was the proportion of hearing aid use 1 year after screening. The audiology cost measure included costs of hearing loss screening and audiology care for 1 year after screening. Incremental cost-effectiveness was the audiology cost of additional hearing aid use for each screening group compared with the control group. The mean total audiology cost per patient was $77.04, $122.70, $121.37, and $157.08 for the control, otoscope, questionnaire, and dual screening groups, respectively. The tone-emitting otoscope appears to be the most cost-effective approach for hearing loss screening, with a significant increase in hearing aid use 1 year after screening (2.8%) and an insignificant incremental cost-effectiveness of $1,439.00 per additional hearing aid user compared with the control group. For this population of older veterans, screening for hearing loss with the tone-emitting otoscope is cost-effective.

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