In a recent study, Mahendran and colleagues (2021) sought to compare the rates of cochlear implant (CI) referral and implantation across different races and to compare audiometric profiles of the patients via retrospective analysis.
Demographic and audiometric data were collected for 504 patients between 2010–2020 who underwent CI evaluation or implantation. Of those, 388 met CI candidacy criteria and 258 received a cochlear implant. Of those referred for CI evaluation, approximately 69 percent were White, 19 percent were Black and 12 percent were Asian. Interestingly, the institution’s (academic tertiary care institution) service area is 47 percent White, 42 percent Black and 8 percent Asian.
Black patients referred for CI evaluation had significantly worse hearing and word recognition scores than White patients and Asian patients. Black patients who underwent CI evaluation also had significantly worse AzBio scores than White patients.
The authors concluded that Black patients undergo CI evaluation and implantation at rates disproportionately lower than expected based on local demographics. Black patients also have significantly worse hearing at the time of CI referral than White and Asian patients.
Identifying and increasing awareness of these disparities are essential steps to improving cochlear implant access for disadvantaged populations.
Mahendran GN, Rosenbluth T, Featherstone M, et al. (2021) Racial disparities in adult cochlear implantation. Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 165(1).
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