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UBC Theses and Dissertations

"You can lead a horse to water..." : perspectives on hearing health in older adults from focus group evaluations of an educational presentation Holliday, Heather Victoria


Age-related hearing loss (ARHL) is the third most common chronic condition in older adults in Canada and the United States (CASLPA, 2005), and has wide-spread implications. When untreated, ARHL’s effects can include safety concerns (e.g., Bruck & Thomas, 2009) and reductions in quality of life (e.g., Arlinger, 2003). There is ongoing interest in audiology into why the number of individuals seeking and using management strategies for ARHL remains so low. For example, only 19% of Canadians with hearing loss use hearing aids or hearing assistance technology (Brennan et al., 2009). Resistance to taking steps towards hearing health change may be due to many factors, such as perceptions of susceptibility, benefits, and barriers; self-efficacy and outcome expectations; and, lack of access to appropriate and trusted information (Cox et al., 2005; Egger et al., 1999; Hickson & Scarinci, 2007; Winsor, 2011). In the present study, an information-sharing presentation, Hearing Health in Older Adults, was designed with the seniors’ advocacy group Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of British Columbia (COSCO). The presentation combined participatory action learning, peer teaching, peer learning, and narrative case studies to promote the health literacy of older adults about hearing health. The purpose of this investigation was two-fold. The first aim was to evaluate the presentation. The second, broader aim was to explore hearing health change from the perspectives of older adults. Four minimally-led focus group discussions were held following the COSCO presentation Hearing Health in Older Adults. The data from these discussions were analyzed using the inductive techniques of qualitative description and thematic analysis. The dialogue that ensued was varied, yet had several common threads: five central themes emerged. Each theme is discussed in terms of how it might influence initiating and supporting change; in relation to existing literature; and, in light of health behaviour theories from the field of psychology. And finally, the implications of this study for both health literacy educators and the field of audiology are explored.

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