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Kate discussing hearing loss and brain health with a group of older people

Highlighting the links between hearing loss and brain health

Published: 9 May 2024

Dr Kate Hough, Research Fellow in Medicine, worked with over 300 people from Southampton and Hampshire. She built trusted relationships with hard-of-hearing groups, memory cafes, and groups that brought different religious and ethnic communities together.

Kate provided expert advice and information on hearing loss and the importance of looking after hearing in later life. 

Kate believes the real benefit of community engagement is having the opportunity to make a difference to people’s lives – even on a small scale.

Things such as reminding people why they should think about their hearing, suggesting ways they can improve communication with their loved ones, or even by simply listening to people’s experiences of hearing loss and how it has impacted them.
Research Fellow in Neuroimmunology

Raising awarness 

Two thirds of adults aged over 60 experience some degree of hearing loss, according to the World Health Organisation. Hearing loss can lead to isolation and loneliness and 8% of dementia cases are linked to hearing loss.

Dr Kate Hough's outreach resulted in the groups having a greater awareness of the importance of looking after hearing. The participants were encouraged to join a patient and public involvement and engagement group.

Kate explained that so far, 24 people have joined the group, more than doubling its size. Their insights and involvement are so important to inform future research into hearing loss, she believes.

This project has created new partnerships with hundreds of local people and hugely diversified the ‘All Ears’ group, which directly informs academic research.

Dr Kate Hough

Building on this success

Following the success of this project, Kate has received funding to continue to build trust and work with the local community. Alongside raising awareness, she is aiming to increase the number of local people going for routine hearing checks.