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Trends and Predictors of Longitudinal Hearing Aid Use for Children Who Are Hard of Hearing

Walker, Elizabeth A.1; McCreery, Ryan W.2; Spratford, Meredith2; Oleson, Jacob J.3; Van Buren, John3; Bentler, Ruth1; Roush, Patricia4; Moeller, Mary Pat2

Ear & Hearing:
doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000208
Research Articles
Abstract

Objectives: Children who are hard of hearing (CHH) have restricted access to acoustic and linguistic information. Increased audibility provided by hearing aids (HAs) influences language outcomes, but the advantages of appropriately fit HAs can only be realized if children wear their devices on a consistent basis. The purpose of this article was to characterize long-term HA use in CHH, based on parent-report measures, and identify factors that influence longitudinal trends in HA use.

Design: Participants were parents of 290 children with mild to severe hearing loss. At every visit, parents estimated the average amount of time the child used HAs per day during the week and on the weekends. Parent reports of daily HA use were analyzed to determine if different patterns of HA use were observed longitudinally during the study. Independent predictor variables were then related to longitudinal trends in HA use within three age groups (infant, preschool, school age).

Results: On average across multiple visits, parents reported that their children wore their HAs for 10.63 hr per day (SD = 3.29). Data logging values were lower than parent-report measures (M = 8.44, SD = 4.06), suggesting that parents overestimated daily HA use. The majority of children in each age group wore HAs at least 8 hr per day from their first research testing interval to their last, based on parent-report measures. Maternal education level predicted longitudinal trends in HA use for infants and school-age CHH. Degree of hearing loss was related to trends in school-age children only.

Conclusions: These results indicated that the majority of CHH increased HA use over time, but a sizable minority demonstrated a low level of use or decreased use in the time period studied. Maternal education level influenced longitudinal trends in daily HA use. Degree of hearing loss influenced trends in school-age children only. Audiologists and early intervention service providers might aid in improving HA use by providing regular hands-on training with the HAs and individualized problem-based strategies to address the challenges families experience with attaining a high level of use. Families may also benefit from practical demonstrations of the benefits of consistent HA use, such as hearing loss simulations, examples of listening in noise with and without HAs, or listening to malfunctioning HAs.

In Brief

The primary objective of this study was to examine trends in hearing aid (HA) use over time for children who are hard of hearing (CHH). Additional goals included examining factors that influence longitudinal trends in HA use. The current results indicated that the majority of CHH increased HA use during the early childhood years, while a minority remained limited users or decreased usage over time. Maternal education level appears to play an important role in longitudinal trends in daily HA use.

Author Information

1Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA; 2Center for Childhood Deafness, Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, Nebraska, USA; 3Department of Biostatistics, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA; and 4Department of Otolaryngology, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

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The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare. The authors had full editorial control of this work and manuscript.

Received December 1, 2014; accepted May 27, 2015.

Address for correspondence: Elizabeth A. Walker, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of Iowa, 250 Hawkins Drive, Iowa City, IA 52242. E-mail: elizabeth-walker@uiowa.edu

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