IMPORTANCE: Hearing impairment (HI) is highly prevalent in older adults and has been associated with adverse health outcomes. However, the overall economic impact of HI is not well described. OBJECTIVE: The goal of this review was to summarize available data on all relevant costs associated with HI among adults. EVIDENCE REVIEW: A literature search of PubMed, Embase, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, and Scopus was conducted in August 2015. For this systematic review, data extraction and quality assessment were performed by 2 independent reviewers. Eligibility criteria for included studies were presence of quantitative estimation of economic impact or loss of productivity of patients with HI, full-text English-language access, and publication in an academic, peer-reviewed journal or government report prior to August 2015. This review follows the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses (PRISMA) statement. A meta-analysis was not performed owing to the studies’ heterogeneity in outcomes measures, methodology, and study country. FINDINGS: The initial literature search yielded 4595 total references. After 2043 duplicates were removed, 2552 publications underwent title and abstract review, yielding 59 articles for full-text review. After full-text review, 25 articles were included. Of the included articles, 8 incorporated measures of disability; 5 included direct estimates of medical expenditures; 8 included other cost estimates; and 7 were related to noise-induced or work-related HI. Estimates of the economic cost of lost productivity varied widely, from $1.8 to $194 billion in the United States. Excess medical costs resulting from HI ranged from $3.3 to $12.8 billion in the United States. CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: Hearing loss is associated with billions of dollars of excess costs in the United States, but significant variance is seen between studies. A rigorous, comprehensive estimate of the economic impact of hearing loss is needed to help guide policy decisions around the management of hearing loss in adults.
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