Go to content

Implantable hearing devices in Ontario: a population-based study of access to care and access to devices


Introduction — The prevalence of hearing loss in Canada is high, with many patients requiring implantable hearing devices (IHDs) as treatment for their disease severity. Despite this need, many eligible patients do not pursue these interventions. The objective of this study was to examine rates of IHD based on geographic location to understand locoregional variation in access to care.

Study Design — This was a retrospective population-based cohort study.

Setting — All hospitals in the Canadian province of Ontario.

Methods — Of all patients with IHD between April 1, 1992, and March 31, 2021, cochlear implants (CIs) (4,720) and bone-anchored hearing aids (BAHA) (1,125) cohorts were constructed. Place of residence was categorized based on Local Health Integrated Network (LHIN). Summary statistics for place of surgical institution based on LHIN at first surgery, name of institution of first surgery and “as the crow flies” distance (in km) between place of residence and surgical institution were calculated. Rate of implantations was calculated for LHIN regions based on number of surgeries per 1,000,000 persons/years.

Results — Toronto Central, Central, Central East, and Champlain regions had >10% of patients undergoing BAHA and CI. 1,019 (90.6%) and 4,232 (89.7%) of patients receiving BAHA and CI, respectively, resided in urban/suburban regions and 94 patients (8.4%) and 436 (9.2%) resided in rural regions. The median distance between residential location and the institution was 46.4 km (interquartile range [IQR], 18.9–103.6) and 44.7 km (IQR, 15.7–96.9) for BAHA and CI, respectively. From 1992 to 2021, the number of CI and BAHA performed across Ontario increased by 17 folds and 6 folds, respectively.

Conclusion — This large comprehensive population study provides longitudinal insight into the access to care of IHD based on geographic factors. Our findings of the present population-based study indicate an overall increase in access to devices with disproportionate access to care based on geographic locations. Further work is needed to characterize barriers to IHD access to align with demands.



Kirubalingam K, Nguyen P, Kang A, Beyea JA. Audiol Neurootol. 2023; Nov 21 [Epub ahead of print].

View Source

Contributing ICES Scientists

Research Programs

Associated Sites