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Acta Otolaryngol. 2003 Jan;123(2):245-8.

The hearing aid revolution: fact or fiction?

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WHO Collaborating Center for the Pretention of Deafness and Hearing Impairment, Department of Audiology, Bispebjerg Hospital H:S, Copenhagen, Denmark.



To present the experiences of consumers with traditional hearing aids (T-HAs) and digital signal processing hearing aids (DSP-HAs) during the period 1999-2001, based on data obtained from an ongoing quality assurance programme.


A questionnaire is mailed to subjects fitted with HAs 3-4 months after the fitting, and includes questions concerning satisfaction with the HA, frequency of use of the HA, ability to manipulate the HA, satisfaction with the overall services of the department and need (if any) for additional appointments.


The response rate was 69.5%, and thus information was obtained from 14 325 subjects (44.9% male, 55.1% female; median age 72 years; range 18-97 years). Of the respondents, 7,983 (55.7%) had been provided with T-HAs and 6,342 (44.3%) with DSP-HAs. The results of the questionnaire were as follows: 71.4% of those fitted with a T-HA were very satisfied/satisfied with it, compared to 68.1% with a DSP-HA (p < 0.05); 91.6% and 89.1%, respectively used their HA daily/weekly (p < 0.05); 80.5% and 82.2%, respectively, were able to manipulate their HA; 96.2% and 97.3%, respectively were satisfied with the overall services of the department; and 32.5% and 48.5%, respectively, indicated a need for an additional appointment (p < 0.05). A comparison between high- and low-cost DSP-HAs showed that 68.4% and 68.2%, respectively were very satisfied/satisfied with their HA (p = NS).


According to consumers the "HA revolution" has failed to materialize; the significantly higher proportion of subjects with DSP-HAs who need an additional appointment represents a heavy burden on the hearing health services. The lack of a difference between the benefits obtained with low- and high-cost DSP-HAs emphasizes the need for appropriately designed and performed trials before new HA technology is launched.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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