OBJECTIVES : Emotional and psychological well-being are essential to overall health, but there is little research showing how to approach emotional and psychological concerns in the audiological setting. This study investigated audiologists' self-reported clinical behaviors in response to emotional and psychological concerns and/or symptoms raised by audiology clients.
DESIGN : A sample of 83 Australia-based audiologists completed a survey including vignettes presenting older adults with hearing loss and experiencing symptoms consistent with either depression or grief. Content analysis was used to explore: (1) audiologists' self-reported usual response when clients present with emotional and psychological concerns and/or symptoms in the audiological setting; (2) audiologists' ability to identify and describe psychological symptoms; and (3) audiologists' self-reported clinical behaviors relating to client referral for psychological support.
RESULTS : When asked to describe their usual clinical course of action in response to the vignettes, over one half the audiologists described actions that address the clients concerns related to psychological well-being. Where audiologists described how they would provide psychological support, they described modifications to the audiological rehabilitation program including involving significant others in the rehabilitation process, recommending additional support outside of the audiology setting (such as General Practitioner or psychologists), and providing emotional support and counseling. When prompted, the majority of participants recognized the two cases with depression as having a mental health condition; however, 48% of participants indicated the control case as also having a mental health condition. When asked directly, the majority of audiologists indicated that they would refer the three vignettes for specialist support; however, less than one third described referral to a General Practitioner and less than 5% described referral to a mental health professional as their normal course of action in the open response item. Twenty-five different professions/people were reported as potential sources for referral.
CONCLUSIONS : These findings support the need for further training and/or resources for audiologists to enable them to appropriately detect, describe and refer for emotional and psychological concerns and/or symptoms raised by clients' in the audiology setting.