The purpose of this proposal is to develop and test the effectiveness of an innovative community health worker intervention to expand access to hearing healthcare among older adults facing health disparities. The community health worker model has been used successfully in U.S.-Mexico border communities to increase access to healthcare and self-management for a range of chronic conditions. In many rural communities facing health disparities, hearing aids are inaccessible to the people who need them due to financial barriers, and there are typically no other avenues to reduce the burden of hearing loss on quality of life. The partners on this grant include audiology faculty from the University of Arizona, public health researchers from the Arizona Prevention Research Center, and community health workers at the Mariposa Community Health Center, a federally qualified health center on the U.S.-Mexico border.
This unique interdisciplinary research team offers a significant opportunity to unite current research areas and expertise to develop a low-cost, deliverable, and effective alternative intervention that yields measurable improvements in quality of life for individual patients and their families, as well as a more sustainable and cost-effective model of hearing healthcare delivery in rural health settings with diverse populations.