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Hearing impairment is recognised for its prominence among the chronic conditions of ageing, being more prevalent in Australia than all other national health priorities except musculo-skeletal conditions (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2004). However despite its prevalence, there have been fewer epidemiological studies of hearing impairment than for other chronic diseases and disorders. Epidemiological data based on audiological evaluations are scant and a rigorously defined burden of illness for hearing impairment at a population or community level using both audiological and self-report types of estimate is still only available from a few studies world-wide (Gates et al., 1990; Davis, 1995; Wilson et al., 1998; Cruikshanks et al., 1998). Longitudinal studies are particularly valuable in providing information about patterns of ageing, about cohort differences in age-related physical, sensory and psychological functioning and for the services which an ageing population might require...
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