The goals of the current research were to determine: (1) whether there is a relationship between perceived social support and hearing aid satisfaction, and (2) how well perceived social support predicts hearing aid satisfaction relative to other correlates previously identified in the literature.
In study 1, 173 adult (x age = 68.9 years; SD = 13.4) users of hearing aids completed a survey assessing attitudes toward health, hearing, and hearing aids, as well as a questionnaire assessing Big-Five personality factors (Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism) either using paper and pencil or the Internet. In a follow-up study designed to replicate and extend the results from study 1, 161 adult (x age = 32.8 years; SD = 13.3) users of hearing aids completed a similar survey on the Internet. In study 2, participants also completed a measure of hearing aid benefit and reported the style of their hearing aid.
In studies 1 and 2, perceived social support was significantly correlated with hearing aid satisfaction (respectively, r = 0.34, r = 0.51, ps < 0.001). The results of a regression analysis revealed that in study 1, 22% of the variance in hearing aid satisfaction scores was predicted by perceived social support, satisfaction with one’s hearing health care provider, duration of daily hearing aid use, and openness. In study 2, 43% of the variance in hearing aid satisfaction was predicted by perceived social support, hearing aid benefit, neuroticism, and hearing aid style. Overall, perceived social support was the best predictor of hearing aid satisfaction in both studies. After controlling for response style (i.e., acquiescence or the tendency to respond positively), the correlation between perceived social support and hearing aid satisfaction remained the same in study 1 (r = 0.34, p < 0.001) and was lower in study 2 (r = 0.39, p < 0.001), although the change in correlation was not significant.
The results from study 1 provide evidence to suggest that perceived social support is a significant predictor of satisfaction with hearing aids, a finding that was replicated in a different sample of participants investigated in study 2. A significant relationship between perceived social support and hearing aid satisfaction was observed in both studies, even though the composition of the two samples differed in terms of age, relationship status, income, proportion of individuals with unilateral versus bilateral hearing impairment, and lifetime experience with hearing aids. The results from both studies 1 and 2 provide no support for the claim that participant response style accounts for the relationship between hearing aid satisfaction and perceived social support.