Emotional and mental health is essential to overall health, but there has been little research on how to approach emotional and mental health in the audiology setting. This study provides a preliminary investigation into the current knowledge, beliefs, and practices of Australian audiologists in addressing the emotional and mental health needs of adults with hearing loss.
A 22-item survey using open- and closed-ended questions was completed by 95 Australian audiologists using a cross-sectional study design.
Two thirds of audiologists described being underconfident and lacking the skills required to provide emotional support to people with hearing loss. Barriers to delivering emotional support included feeling out of their depth (56.6%), time/caseload pressures (55.3%), and the perception that the provision of emotional support was not within an audiologist's scope of practice (31.6%). Audiologists described a desire to refer clients to mental health professionals yet highlighted significant barriers, including not knowing who to refer to (54.7%), when to make a referral (49.3%), or how to make a referral (38.6%). Audiologists overwhelmingly (96%) indicated that they would like to develop their knowledge and skills associated with the provision of emotional and mental health support in the audiological setting.
Knowledge, skills, and time were identified as the key areas that require attention in order to allow audiologists to address the emotional and mental health needs of adults with hearing loss.