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Research project

SO-Together Health: Working together within Southampton for better hearing and brain health

Project overview

Hearing loss is one of the highest risk factors for dementia. In older adults, hearing loss is also associated with loneliness and increased social isolation. Many people with hearing loss will face barriers when accessing information, community groups and services as often the content and built space is not suitable for them. Raising public awareness of hearing loss as a risk factor for dementia, and the benefits of treatments including hearing aids or cochlear implants, through community engagement, can help people stay connected and protect their health and wellbeing.

Our aim was to go into our local community and establish trust and links with a diverse range of community groups. Once we had built trust, our objective was to initiate discussion and raise awareness of good hearing and brain health. Working alongside the community group leads and our patient and public involvement and engagement (PPIE) group members (ALL_EARS@UoS), we aimed to co-design activities which we could then take into community groups to encourage discussion and the sharing of experiences around hearing and brain health. We wanted to bring older members of the community together, to share their experience, knowledge and fears around hearing loss and dementia.

Funding: Public and Community Development Fund 2022-2023.


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.
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