Original Research

The prevalence of hearing impairment within the Cape Town Metropolitan area

Lebogang Ramma, Ben Sebothoma
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 63, No 1 | a105 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v63i1.105 | © 2016 Lebogang Ramma, Ben Sebothoma | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 28 September 2014 | Published: 08 April 2016

About the author(s)

Lebogang Ramma, Division of Communication Sciences & Disorders, University of Cape Town, South Africa
Ben Sebothoma, Clinical Educator, Division of Communication Sciences & Disorders, University of Cape Town, South Africa


Background: There is a lack of data on the prevalence of hearing impairment in South Africa. Current data is unreliable as it is based on national census information which tends to underestimate the prevalence of hearing impairment.

Aim: The aim of this study was to estimate the prevalence of hearing impairment in the Cape Town Metropolitan area and to determine factors associated with hearing impairment.

Method: A cross-sectional household survey involving 2494 partcipants from 718 households was conducted between the months of February and October 2013. Random cluster sampling was used to select four health sub-districts from eight health sub-districts in the Cape Town Metropolitan area using a method of probability proportional to size (PPS). The survey was conducted according to the World Health Organization (WHO) Ear and Hearing Disorders Survey Protocol and the classifcation of hearing impairment matched the WHO’s criteria for the grading of hearing impairment.

Results: The overall prevalence of hearing impairment in the population of this study was 12.35% (95%CI: 11.06% – 13.64%) and prevalence of disabling hearing impairment was 4.57% (95% CI: 3.75% – 5.39%) amongst individuals ≥ 4 years old. The following factors were found to be associated with hearing impairment; male gender, age, hypertension, a history of head and neck trauma and a family history of hearing impairment.

Conclusion: Based on the data from communities surveyed during this study, hearing impairment is more prevalent than previously estimated based on national population census information. Interventions for the prevention of hearing impairment in these communities should focus on individuals with associated risk factors.


Prevalence, hearing Impairment, disabling hearing impairment


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