2018 Volume 60 Issue 5 Pages 376-382
Objective: This study was conducted to explore the scope of practice for occupational audiologists in the mining industry and the audiologists' involvement in hearing conservation programmes in South African mines. Additionally, this study investigated the mining industry's role in the audiologists' involvement, and assessed the audiologists' levels of preparedness for working in occupational audiology. Methods: In-depth, qualitative telephone and face-to face interviews were conducted with seven occupational audiologists involved in the management of occupational, noise-induced hearing loss (ONIHL) in the South African mining sector. Snowball sampling was utilized to recruit possible participants for this study. Data were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. Results: The following themes were identified: scope-context misalignment, juniorization of the experts, audiologists are important... but for what?, and limited training in occupational audiology. Conclusions: Our evidence highlights important gaps in HCPs in South Africa. The fact that the audiologists responsible for the management of ONIHL are only minimally and peripherally involved may play a significant role in the lack of progress reported in the management of ONIHL in the South African mining sector.