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BMJ Glob Health ; 7(1)2022 01.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1662312


INTRODUCTION: To improve access to assistive products (APs) globally, data must be available to inform evidence-based decision-making, policy development and evaluation, and market-shaping interventions. METHODS: This systematic review was undertaken to identify studies presenting population-based estimates of need and coverage for five APs (hearing aids, limb prostheses, wheelchairs, glasses and personal digital assistants) grouped by four functional domains (hearing, mobility, vision and cognition). RESULTS: Data including 656 AP access indicators were extracted from 207 studies, most of which (n=199, 96%) were cross-sectional, either collecting primary (n=167) or using secondary (n=32) data. There was considerable heterogeneity in assessment approaches used and how AP indicators were reported; over half (n=110) used a combination of clinical and self-reported assessment data. Of 35 studies reporting AP use out of all people with functional difficulty in the corresponding functional domains, the proportions ranged from 4.5% to 47.0% for hearing aids, from 0.9% to 17.6% for mobility devices, and from 0.1% to 86.6% for near and distance glasses. Studies reporting AP need indicators demonstrated >60% unmet need for each of the five APs in most settings. CONCLUSION: Variation in definitions of indicators of AP access have likely led to overestimates/underestimates of need and coverage, particularly, where the relationship between functioning difficulty and the need for an AP is complex. This review demonstrates high unmet need for APs globally, due in part to disparate data across this sector, and emphasises the need to standardise AP data collection and reporting strategies to provide a comparable evidence base to improve access to APs.

Self-Help Devices , Humans