Original Research - Special Collection: Occupational Hearing Loss in Africa

South African hearing conservation programmes in the context of tele-audiology: A scoping review

Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Nomfundo Moroe
South African Journal of Communication Disorders | Vol 67, No 2 | a670 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajcd.v67i2.670 | © 2020 Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Nomfundo Moroe | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 August 2019 | Published: 03 March 2020

About the author(s)

Katijah Khoza-Shangase, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
Nomfundo Moroe, Department of Audiology, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa


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Abstract

Background: The limited involvement of audiologists in occupational noise-induced hearing loss (ONIHL) management through hearing conservation programmes (HCPs) is a global issue. In low- and middle-income (LAMI) countries such as South Africa, this is also exacerbated by demand versus capacity challenges. Tele-audiology is an option requiring serious deliberation by the audiology community within HCPs in LAMI contexts.

Objectives: This scoping review explores if tele-audiology has a potential value in HCPs and reviews what has been documented in the literature on the use of tele-audiology in HCPs.

Method: A scoping review was conducted using the Arksey and O’Malley’s framework. A search was conducted in five electronic bibliographic databases including Science Direct, PubMed, Scopus Medline, ProQuest and Google Scholar and the grey literature to identify publications presenting considerations around tele-audiology in the implementation of HCPs.

Results: Findings revealed significant dearth of evidence specific to the use or application of tele-audiology in ONIHL and/or HCPs both within the African context and internationally, despite the purported potential benefit of this service delivery model, particularly in resource-constrained contexts such as LAMI countries. Of the publications deemed potentially relevant to this scoping review, none were found that specifically investigated or addressed the use of tele-audiology in ONIHL or HCPs as their main objective. Nuanced analysis of publications revealed that in the last decade, indication for potential growth in the use of tele-audiology within occupational audiology is indicated.

Conclusion: Because of the significant demand versus capacity challenges in LAMI countries, and because of the need for scaling up audiology professionals’ management of HCPs, careful consideration of teleaudiology as a platform to deliver services in these contexts is required.


Keywords

audiology availability; e-health; e-medicine; e-practice; hearing conservation; noise; occupational; resource constrained; tele-audiology; tele-health; tele-medicine

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