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J Am Acad Audiol. 2010 May;21(5):315-28. doi: 10.3766/jaaa.21.5.4.

Evaluation of an audiological rehabilitation program for spouses of people with hearing loss.

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Program in Audiology, University of Louisville, KY 40292, USA.



Since the psychosocial effects of hearing loss are different in the spouse (SP) than in the person with hearing loss (PHL), it seems reasonable that rehabilitation programs designed for PHLs may need to be adapted to benefit SPs.


To evaluate the effectiveness of training in communication strategies and psychosocial exercises for SPs of PHLs by determining whether SPs who completed the group class had improved mood, reduced stress, improved marital communication, and greater awareness of their partners' hearing loss-related quality of life (HL-QOL) in comparison with SPs who did not participate in a group class. Additionally, to determine whether PHLs of SPs who participated in a group audiological rehabilitation (AR) class had significantly improved mood, reduced stress, improved marital communication, and better HL-QOL scores in comparison with PHLs whose SPs did not participate in a group class.


A randomized controlled study.


A total of 72 individuals participated in the study, 36 PHLs and 36 SPs. The PHLs were hearing aid users or cochlear implant users; the SPs had normal or near normal hearing.


PHLs in the control group participated in a traditional group AR program while their SPs received no treatment. PHLs in the experimental group also participated in a traditional group AR program while their SPs participated in a treatment program designed for SPs of PHLs. Classes consisted of 90 min sessions meeting once a week for four weeks.


All participants completed questionnaires measuring HL-QOL (the SPs filled out third-party reports of HL-QOL), stress, mood (positive affect and negative affect), and communication in the marriage. Scales were completed three times: prior to the AR program, within two weeks after completing the AR program, and 6 mo later. SP awareness of their PHL's HL-QOL was measured by comparing preclass and 6 mo scores with reported critical difference values. Preclass, postclass and 6 mo data were examined with repeated measures ANOVAs.


All SPs reported significant improvements in third-party HL-QOL between the preclass and postclass visit. At the 6 mo visit, these reports remained consistent in the control SPs but declined in the experimental SPs. Awareness of HL-QOL in PHLs was improved in SPs who participated in AR classes and remained consistent in SPs who did not. All SPs demonstrated a trend (moderate effect sizes) for decreased stress and decreased negative affect after they and/or their partners completed the AR program. All PHLs demonstrated significant improvements in HL-QOL, significant reductions in stress, significant decreases in negative affect, and significant improvements in marital communication. There were no differences in outcome across the experimental and control PHLs.


When PHLs participate in an AR program, they receive significant improvements in QOL (quality of life). Congruence (as defined by similar scores) between SP and PHL assessments of HL-QOL improved in the experimental group, suggesting that the principal impact of the AR program on SPs was improved understanding of PHL experiences with hearing loss.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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