This study reviewed the evidence on the effects that hearing aids have on everyday life in adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. Authors were interested in (1) a person’s ability to take part in everyday situations, (2) general health-related quality of life, (3) ability to listen to other people, and (4) harm, such as pain or over-exposure to noise.
The main goal of hearing aids is to reduce the impact of hearing loss and to improve a person’s ability to take part in everyday life. Although hearing aids are the most common technology for adults with hearing loss and are in widespread use, it is not clear how beneficial they are.
The evidence is up to date to 23 March 2017. Authors found five clinical studies involving 825 adults with mild to moderate hearing loss who were randomly given either hearing aids, no hearing aids or placebo hearing aids. Studies involved older adults with the average age within studies between 69 and 83 years. The duration of the studies was between six weeks and six months.
Evidence was found in three studies that hearing aids have a large beneficial effect in improving the ability of adults with mild to moderate hearing loss to take part in everyday situations. Hearing aids have a small beneficial effect in improving general health-related quality of life, such as physical, social, emotional and mental well-being, and have a large effect in improving the ability to listen to other people.
Only one study attempted to measure harms due to hearing aids. None were reported.
This review found that hearing aids improve the ability of adults with mild to moderate hearing loss to take part in everyday life, their general quality of life and their ability to listen to other people. If an adult with mild to moderate hearing loss seeks help for their hearing difficulties, hearing aids are an effective clinical option. It is important that future studies measure benefits consistently and report benefits separately for different age groups, genders, levels of hearing loss and types of hearing aids.
Hearing aids for mild to moderate hearing loss in adults:
Rolfeab, . & Gardner, C. International Journal of Audiology. Published online: 5 July 2016
Objective: Effective hearing loss rehabilitation support options are available. Yet, people often experience delays in receiving rehabilitation support. This study aimed to document support-seeking experiences among a sample of UK adults with hearing loss, and views towards potential strategies to increase rehabilitation support uptake. People with hearing loss were interviewed about their experiences of seeking support, and responses to hypothetical intervention strategies, including public awareness campaigns, a training programme for health professionals, and a national hearing screening programme.
Design: Semi-structured qualitative interview design with thematic analysis.
Study sample: Twenty-two people with hearing loss, aged 66–88.
Results: Three themes, representing barriers to receiving rehabilitation support and potential areas for intervention, were identified: making the journey from realization to readiness, combatting social stigma, and accessing appropriate services. Barriers to receiving support mostly focused on appraisal of hearing loss symptoms. Interventions enabling symptom appraisal, such as routine screening, or demonstrating how to raise the topic effectively with a loved one, were welcomed.
Conclusions: Interventions to facilitate realization of hearing loss should be prioritized. Raising awareness of the symptoms and prevalence of hearing loss may help people to identify hearing problems and reduce stigma, in turn increasing hearing loss acceptance.
Stikaa, C.J. & Haysb, R.D. International Journal of Audiology. Published online: 22 Apr 2016
Objective: Self-reports of ‘hearing handicap’ are available, but a comprehensive measure of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) for individuals with adult-onset hearing loss (AOHL) does not exist. Our objective was to develop and evaluate a multidimensional HRQOL instrument for individuals with AOHL.
Design: The Impact of Hearing Loss Inventory Tool (IHEAR-IT) was developed using results of focus groups, a literature review, advisory expert panel input, and cognitive interviews. Study sample: The 73-item field-test instrument was completed by 409 adults (22–91 years old) with varying degrees of AOHL and from different areas of the USA.
Results: Multitrait scaling analysis supported four multi-item scales and five individual items. Internal consistency reliabilities ranged from 0.93 to 0.96 for the scales. Construct validity was supported by correlations between the IHEAR-IT scales and scores on the 36-item Short Form Health Survey, version 2.0 (SF-36v2) mental composite summary (r = 0.32–0.64) and the Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly/Adults (HHIE/HHIA) (r ≥ −0.70).
Conclusions: The field test provides initial support for the reliability and construct validity of the IHEAR-IT for evaluating HRQOL of individuals with AOHL. Further research is needed to evaluate the responsiveness to change of the IHEAR-IT scales and identify items for a short-form.
Uhler K., Anderson M.C. & Jenkins H.A. Audiol Neurotol 2016;21:105-112
This study examined the safety and efficacy of a fully implantable active middle ear (AMEI) system. Outcome measures assessed AMEI performance compared with an optimally fitted conventional hearing aid (CHA). Fifty adults with stable, symmetric moderate-to-severe sensorineural hearing loss were implanted at 9 ambulatory settings. Consonant-Nucleus-Consonant (CNC) words, Bamford-Kowel-Bench Speech in Noise test (BKB-SIN), Abbreviated Profile of Hearing Aid Benefit (APHAB), and unaided hearing thresholds in the implanted ear were compared to baseline measures obtained using a personal CHA. Changes in thresholds were observed from pre- to 12-month postoperative assessments. CNC word scores decreased (within 10%), and the BKB-SIN showed no change from pre- to 12-month postoperative time points. The APHAB revealed improvement. Findings suggest no difference in performance between an appropriately fit CHA and the AMEI at 12 months. This study indicates AMEIs have the potential to help individuals who choose not to use CHAs.
Leigh, J.R. et al. International Journal of Audiology. Published online: 10 March 2016.
Image shows artwork representing sound waves in the cochlear duct.
Objective: Adult selection criteria for cochlear implantation have been developed based on analysis of the post-operative performance of a large group of postlingually deafened adults. Original criteria published in 2004 were reviewed and amended to reflect outcomes currently being achieved by implant recipients.
Design: Retrospective review of 12-month post-operative speech perception performance of adults implanted at the Eye and Ear Hospital, Melbourne, Australia.
Study sample: A total of 382 postlingually deafened adults, using a Freedom, Nucleus 5, or CI422 Slim Straight cochlear implant were used to create a comparative set of data.
Results: Revised guidelines suggest that adults with postlingual hearing loss can now be considered cochlear implant candidates if they obtain scores of up to 55% for open-set phonemes in quiet in the ear to be implanted. Functional benefit may vary depending on the recipients’ contralateral hearing.
Conclusions: This study supports the provision of cochlear implants to candidates with significant residual hearing when at least one ear meets the criterion outlined above. Patient-specific counseling is required to ensure the potential to benefit predicted by the current model is acceptable to the individual patient and their family. Counseling regarding functional benefit must take into consideration hearing in the contralateral ear.
Adult Cochlear Implantation: Evidence and Experience
The Ear Foundation held a conference on ‘Adult Hearing Loss- time for a new approach’ in Westminster on 15th October 2013. The conference gathered leaders from audiology, from industry, from the Third Sector and politicians, all joined in a passion to move forward with raising awareness of the impact of hearing loss, the exciting technologies we have available today, and pushing for an adult hearing screening programme.
The conference was followed by the launch of our report- Adult Cochlear Implantation: evidence and experience, pushing for greater access to cochlear implantation for adults. Stephen Lloyd, MP, and Lilian Greenwood, MP, both shared the passion to support the initiative.
As one delegate commented: “At last it feels like we have a momentum to change ……: