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Exploring Hearing Aid Problems: Perspectives of Hearing Aid Owners and Clinicians

Bennett, Rebecca, J.1,2; Laplante-Lévesque, Ariane3,4; Meyer, Carly, J.5; Eikelboom, Robert, H.1,2,6

doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000477
Research Articles

Objectives: To gather perspectives of hearing aid owners and hearing healthcare clinicians with regard to problems that arise after hearing aid fitting and use these perspectives to generate a conceptual framework to gain a better understanding of these problems.

Design: Participants included a group of 17 hearing aid owners and a group of 21 hearing healthcare clinicians; data collection occurred separately for each group. Participants each attended two group sessions in Perth, Western Australia, wherein they: (1) generated statements describing the problems associated with hearing aids and (2) grouped and rated the statements to identify key themes. Concept mapping was used to generate a conceptual framework.

Results: Participants identified four concepts regarding hearing aid problems as follows: (1) hearing aid management; (2) hearing aid sound quality and performance; (3) feelings, thoughts, and behaviors; and (4) information and training. While hearing aid owners and clinicians generated similar results regarding the concepts derived, the clinicians reported that the problems identified had a greater negative impact on hearing aid success than did hearing aid owners.

Conclusions: The magnitude and diversity of hearing aid problems identified in this study highlight the ongoing challenges that hearing aid owners face and suggest that current processes for hearing aid fitting can be improved. Problems relating to hearing aid management were most often deemed to have the greatest impact on hearing aid success and be the most preventable/solvable, and thus are a good starting point when addressing hearing aid–related problems.

1Ear Science Institute Australia, Subiaco, Western Australia, Australia; 2Ear Sciences Centre, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia, Australia; 3Eriksholm Research Centre, Snekkersten, Denmark; 4Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Linköping University, Linköping, Sweden; 5School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia; and 6Department of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.

R.J.B. is funded by an Australian Postgraduate Award scholarship through The University of Western Australia. The other authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Portions of this article were presented at the World Congress of Audiology, Vancouver, Canada, September 20, 2016, and at the Audiology Australia National Conference 2016, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, May 23, 2016.

Received December 5, 2016; accepted June 15, 2017.

Address for correspondence: Rebecca Bennett, Ear Science Institute Australia, Suite 1, Level 2, 1 Salvado Road, Subiaco, WA 6008, Australia. E-mail:

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