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Disabil Rehabil. 2005 Jun 3;27(11):601-9.

Effectiveness of an affordable hearing aid with elderly persons.

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Division of Speech and Hearing Sciences, University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong, China.



his study evaluated the effectiveness of a recently developed, low-cost 'over-the-counter' style hearing aid with elderly people, who had mild to moderate mixed or sensorineural hearing losses. Two aspects were focused upon, objective change in the participants' aided hearing measures and the self-reported performance and benefit obtained from the hearing aid.


The hearing aids were trialed by 19 elderly persons over a 3-month period. Aided hearing thresholds and real-ear insertion gain measures were obtained from participants, three questionnaires (the Client-Oriented Scale of Improvement [COSI], the International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids [IOI-HA] and the Profile of Hearing Aid Performance--Chinese version [PHAP-C]) were completed, and an open-ended interview was conducted.


Objective tests noted that the trial hearing aid was able to provide appropriate amplification for the elderly participants in this study. The device was rated by the majority of participants as providing benefit, with 16 of the participants (84%) using their hearing aid from at least 1 to over 8 h each day and with all participants considering the low-cost instrument 'worth the trouble' of wearing. Participant ratings of benefit with the IOI-HA were comparable with those obtained in a normative study in which subjects used more expensive conventional hearing aids. Using the COSI questionnaire, participants typically concluded that their hearing improvement with the study device was 'slightly better' to 'better' than without amplification. The PHAP-C questionnaire results indicated that, while wearing their hearing aids, participants experienced difficulties only infrequently in most everyday listening situations. Comments made during open-ended interviews were equally positive and negative, with most negative comments focused on difficulties with either acoustic feedback or background noise annoyance while wearing the hearing instrument.CONCLUSION. Affordable, over-the-counter hearing devices provide a potential opportunity for greater numbers of persons with hearing loss to access amplification and benefit from improved communicative abilities. Further investigation and further development of these instruments is warranted, to provide enhanced rehabilitation outcomes for elderly persons with hearing impairment.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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