May 2021

A new study led by a University of Miami Miller School of Medicine researcher underscores the importance of screening adolescents with hearing loss for depression and anxiety.

Mental health issues are often overlooked in treating patients with chronic health conditions such as hearing loss. We need to develop and implement a universal screening protocol for depression and anxiety in this high-risk group.” Ivette Cejas, PhD, Associate Professor and Director of Family Support Services, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Miami Health System, Miller School of Medicine

Early identification and intervention for mental health disorders is crucial for adolescents since it can impact speech and hearing outcomes, school performance, and work productivity, added Dr. Cejas. "For patients with hearing loss, depression and anxiety can have detrimental effects on device use and involvement in rehabilitation programs.” She added that universal screening for depression and anxiety in children with hearing loss has not been widely adopted by clinical programs, despite recommendations by the Academy of Paediatrics on the importance of mental health screening in adolescents.

Dr. Cejas was the lead author of the study, "Prevalence of Depression and Anxiety in Adolescents With Hearing Loss”, which analysed results from psychological screenings of 104 adolescents age 12 to 18 who attended an otology clinic in a large metropolitan hospital. The researchers found that 25 percent of adolescents scored above the clinical cutoff on at least one of the depression and/or anxiety measures, with 10 percent scoring in the elevated range on both measures. An additional 30 percent were in the at-risk range for depression and 21 percent were at risk for anxiety. Older adolescents were more subject to depression, and adolescents with severe to profound hearing loss had higher rates of both depression and anxiety.

Dr. Cejas noted that the multidisciplinary team at the University of Miami Ear Institute was the first program in the U.S. to implement mental health screening as part of its standard of care. "Based on our experience, we believe integration of mental health screening is needed in otology and audiology practices to identify adolescents who require psychological support," she said. "Psychological services and support are vital for delivering appropriate treatment to reduce the long-term impact of hearing loss."

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