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Research project

Making research relevant. Can awareness of routes to better brain health be increased through dialogue with underserved communities?

Project overview

Unmanaged hearing loss results in disability in older age. Hearing aids and cochlear implants can restore hearing and may preserve brain health. We want to increase awareness of the links between brain health, dementia, and poor hearing to empower people to seek hearing-healthcare.

We want to make these messages relevant and liveable. People at greatest risk of dementia are in lower socioeconomic groups with the barriers of less agency and entitlement. This is compounded for people from minority ethnic groups.

We will extend our outreach on hearing loss in the community to include underserved communities in conversations about brain health and dementia.

We will evaluate the effectiveness of a period of working with communities in their gathering places to improve the engagement of a wider community in thinking about their own brain health, their willingness to get engaged in research and to encourage and enable positive behaviour change.

Funding: Public and Community Development Fund 2023 - 2024


Lead researcher

Dr Kate Hough

Research Fellow in Neuroimmunology

Research interests

  • Hearing loss
  • Cochlear implants
  • Macrophages
Other researchers

Professor Tracey Newman


Research interests

  • The demographic of populations worldwide is changing. People are living longer but with more years with affected by disability in the last two decades of life. The societal and economic consequences of this change are not being well managed. There is a lag in the development of health interventions and a need for rapid learning for future health and infrastructure planning. Typically, people in poorer economic situations are disproportionately affected by disability in later life.
  • Hearing loss and dementia: I lead multidisciplinary research focussed on hearing loss, the use of cochlear implants to restore hearing in otherwise deaf people and the interaction between hearing loss and dementia.
  • My focus is understanding cellular mechanisms in these conditions and also how the learning and methodologies used to investigate this can be applied across discipline boundaries. I am driving the implementation of data science methodologies for improved management of people who hear with cochlear implants and for the identification of early indicators of cognitive decline. I am championing the engagement of patients in research and as ambassadors to increase awareness of healthcare interventions amongst hard to reach and marginalised communities.

Dr Rosalind Willis BSc MSc PhD

Associate Professor

Research interests

  • Ethnicity
  • Ageing
  • Dementia
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