Effectiveness of alternative listening devices to conventional hearing aids: systematic review protocol

Maidment, D.W. et al. BMJ Open. 6:e011683

phone-1537916_960_720Introduction: Hearing loss is a major public health concern, affecting over 11 million people in the UK. While hearing aids are the most common clinical intervention for hearing loss, the majority of people that would benefit from using hearing aids do not take them up. Recent technological advances have led to a rapid increase of alternative listening devices to conventional hearing aids. These include hearing aids that can be customised using a smartphone, smartphone-based ‘hearing aid’ apps, personal sound amplification products and wireless hearing products. However, no systematic review has been published evaluating whether alternative listening devices are an effective management strategy for people with hearing loss.

Methods and analysis: The objective of this systematic review is to assess whether alternative listening devices are an effective intervention for adults with hearing loss. Methods are reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-analyses Protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 checklist. Retrospective or prospective studies, randomised controlled trials, non-randomised controlled trials, and before-after comparison studies will be eligible for inclusion. We will include studies with adult participants (≥18 years) with a mild or moderate hearing loss. The intervention should be an alternative listening device to a conventional hearing aid (comparison). Studies will be restricted to outcomes associated with the consequences of hearing loss. We will search relevant databases to identify published, completed but unpublished and ongoing trials. The overall quality of included evidence will be evaluated using the GRADE system, and meta-analysis performed if appropriate.

Ethics and dissemination: No ethical issues are foreseen. The findings will be reported at national and international conferences, primarily audiology, and ear, nose and throat, and in a peer-reviewed journal using the PRISMA guidelines.

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