ASHA journals
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Screening for mental health (Bennett et al., 2021)

journal contribution
posted on 2021-10-05, 15:52 authored by Rebecca J. Bennett, Sara Donaldson, Yazdan Mansourian, Michelle Olaithe, India Kelsall-Foreman, Johanna C. Badcock, Robert H. Eikelboom
Purpose: Audiology clinical guidelines recommend the use of mental health screening tools; however, they remain underutilized in clinical practice. As such, psychological concerns are frequently undetected in adults with hearing loss. This study aimed to better understand audiology clinic staff’s perspectives (including audiologists, audiometrists, reception staff, and clinic managers) on how to improve detection of poor mental health by (a) exploring the role of audiology clinic staff in detecting psychological concerns in adults with hearing loss and (b) investigating the appropriateness, acceptability, and usability of several screening tools in an audiology setting.
Method: Eleven audiology clinic staff (Mage = 33.9 ± 7.3, range: 25–51 years) participated in a semistructured focus group. First, participants discussed the role of audiology clinic staff in detecting psychological difficulties in adults with hearing loss, including current practices and needs for improving practices. Second, participants discussed the appropriateness, acceptability, and usability of nine standardized mental health screening tools commonly used in wider health care settings.
Results: Audiology clinic staff described their role in being aware of, and detecting, psychological difficulties, as well as their part in promoting an understanding of the link between hearing loss and mental health. Participants described the need to provide support following detection, and highlighted barriers to fulfilling these roles. The use of mental health screening tools was considered to be client and context specific. The language used within the screener was identified as an important factor for its acceptability by audiology clinic staff.
Conclusions: Audiology clinic staff acknowledged that they have an important role to play in the detection of psychological difficulties and identified the core barriers to using screening tools. Future research may explore the possibility of developing a mental health screening tool specific to the unique experiences of adults with comorbid hearing loss and mental health concerns.

Supplemental Material S1. Focus group prompts.

Supplemental Material S2. Themes and subthemes identified in relation to the role of audiology clinic staff in detecting psychological concerns in adults with hearing loss.

Supplemental Material S3. Mental health screening tools.

Bennett, R. J., Donaldson, S., Mansourian, Y., Olaithe, M., Kelsall-Foreman, I., Badcock, J. C., & Eikelboom, R. H. (2021). Perspectives on mental health screening in the audiology setting: A focus group study involving clinical and nonclinical staff. American Journal of Audiology. Advance online publication.


This work was funded by the Raine Medical Research Foundation and the Ear Science Institute Australia.