NIHR | Manchester Biomedical Research Centre

Addressing Health Inequalities – Identifying hearing health inequalities

Hearing loss affects one in five people, and impacts communication, quality of life, educational and employment opportunities, social engagement, and physical and mental health.

However, there is currently no information about whether there are inequalities in hearing health among different UK ethnic communities.

Addressing Health Inequalities Case Study – Identifying hearing health inequalities

A Manchester BRC case study on how we’re helping to address health inequalities by identifying hearing health inequalities.

The project:

Following a national search, researchers from our Hearing Health theme identified that only the large UK Biobank – that has hearing data on more than 500,000 adults – includes a sizable amount of data about hearing health for ethnic communities.

The researchers analysed UK Biobank hearing data and found that, compared to people reporting White European background, people with Bangladeshi, Black African, or Pakistani background were up to seven times more likely to have hearing loss.

Although more likely to have hearing loss, people from these communities were much less likely to use a hearing aid.

These hearing health inequalities remained after accounting for socioeconomic factors, being born in the UK, time since arriving in the UK and English language familiarity.

A researcher perspective:

Our research was the first to identify these hearing health inequalities, which present a major challenge to achieving health and well-being goals, and sustainable and cohesive communities. We want everyone to have sufficient usable hearing to enable them to achieve their goals in life. Working in partnership with local communities to address health inequalities is a major strategic focus for Manchester BRC.

Professor Piers Dawes, School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland and Study lead on behalf of Manchester BRC

A participant perspective:

I believe that studies to enhance hearing health are vital. From my own experience of childhood hearing loss and being a first-time mother, I experienced anxiety about my child’s hearing. The research in this area is essential as I believe research can enhance future outcomes and best practices.

Tahira Adam, Public Contributor, Vocal