Educating Elderly African Americans to Restore Sound (EARS)
(School of Medicine (UMB) Gerontology Doctoral Student)
Cultural sensitivity is being aware that cultural differences and similarities exist, and have an effect on values, learning, and behavior. Currently, there are a limited number of programs designed to educate elderly African Americans about age-related hearing loss. Findings reported are predominantly based on White samples. EARS was a culturally sensitive, age-related hearing loss educational program, developed to increase the awareness and knowledge of low-income (all sites were covered by the section 8 project-based subsidy) elderly African American residents of three senior housing complexes in Baltimore. The program included an interactive presentation of material, a Jeopardy-like game, a presentation on two programs that subsidize the cost of hearing aids, and a pre- and post-test. This program used relatable educational materials and employed program volunteers of similar cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. In spring 2014, a total of 54 residents participated in the one-day program. Participants were 96% elderly (65 and older) African Americans and 100% low-income. Knowledge gain was assessed by the percentage increase in number of hands raised for each question. There was a 68.5%, 14.8%, and 37% increase in number of hands raised for question topics signs of hearing loss, self-assessment, and plan to utilize services respectively. There was a 42.6%, 63%, and 63% increase in hands raised for plan to seek programs, dangers of hearing loss, and psychosocial effects respectively. Approximately 11% of residents (6/54) self-reported utilizing health services after the program. Culturally sensitive interventions may be effective in increasing knowledge in elderly African Americans with lower incomes.
Importance to public health: