Introduction: There is a high demand for audiologists throughout the United States. Previous research has supported an additional demand for these providers within Appalachia.
Purpose: The purpose of the study was to determine if Appalachia has a disproportionally high demand for audiologists compared to the rest of the United States.
Methods: A cross-sectional retrospective study was performed with population data from the Appalachian Regional Commission, the American Academy of Audiology, and the United States Census Bureau. County-level population-weighted averages of individuals with perceived hearing loss and number of audiologists per capita were compared between Appalachian and non-Appalachian counties.
Results: A mean weighted 5.76 % of individuals reported hearing loss within Appalachia, which was 1.1% higher than the rest of the United States. The 1.14 audiologists per 100,000 individuals in Appalachian counties was not significantly lower than the 1.32 audiologists per 100,000 individuals found in non-Appalachian counties. Audiologists per capita decreased with increases in Beale code and percent reporting hearing loss.
Conclusion: The high number of individuals reporting hearing loss supports an increased demand for audiologists in rural Appalachia. More research is needed to determine how to meet this demand or improve the efficacy of the limited number of providers.
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Pudrith C, Grider E, Kitner B. Perceived Hearing Loss and Availability of Audiologists in Appalachia. J Appalach Health 2021;3(4):29–44. DOI: https://doi.org/10.13023/jah.0304.04