Background: Introduction: 1 in 6 Americans has or will have a sensory or communication disorder in their lifetime. In New York, approximately 12.6% of the population is affected by some degree of hearing loss or vestibular dysfunction. Osteopathic medical student auditory screenings have the potential to positively impact communities in screening for auditory disorders. The aim of this study is to argue for the importance of incorporating auditory screening programs into osteopathic student-run health fairs to positively impact underserved communities.
Methods: Osteopathic medical students developed an auditory screening protocol and training session to detect auditory pathologies in health fair participants. Screenings included patient intake, hearing loss risk factor discussion questions, and audiological testing such as the whispered voice and turning fork tests. Participants of Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine’s fall and spring health fairs were invited to undergo the screening from September 2017 to March 2018 in New York City, New York.
Results: During the inaugural health fairs, 28 participants were screened for auditory pathologies. 6 participants (21%) were referred for additional testing due to abnormal or inconclusive results. Median age of participants was 60 with 19 females and 9 males, IQR 5. Participants primarily self-identified as African American/Black (54%, n=15) or Hispanic (29%, n=8).
Conclusion: The results of this pilot project underscore the benefits of effective auditory screening programs at osteopathic student-run health fairs, especially in urban, underserved communities.