Publication date: February 2019
Source: Social Science & Medicine, Volume 222
Author(s): Arrianna Marie Planey
This study employs statistical modeling and mapping techniques to analyze the availability and accessibility of audiologists (practitioners who diagnose and treat hearing loss) in the United States at the county scale. The goal is to assess the relationships between socio-demographic and structural factors (such as health policy and clinical programs which train audiologists) and audiologist availability. These associations are analyzed at the county level, via a mixed effects hurdle model. At the county level, the proportion of older adults reporting difficulty hearing is negatively associated with audiologist supply. The findings show that audiologists tend to locate in metropolitan counties with higher median household incomes, younger populations, and lower proportions of older adults reporting hearing difficulty, suggesting an inverse care-type relationship between audiologist availability and need for hearing health services. Notably, neither state legislation requiring insurance plan coverage of hearing services for adults or Medicaid coverage of audiology services were significant predictors of audiologist supply at the county level.