Once someone is told they need hearing aids, they either dive in with both feet or are very hesitant about adapting to these devices. Some people are very excited that the devices can help them hear better. Others have a more difficult time making the shift to using hearing aids, and they may have underlying concerns or questions about using the devices.
So, what is the most common reason that people are hesitant to wear hearing aids and end up leaving their devices unused? According to Professor Harvey Dillon (University of Manchester), “the largest predictor of hearing aid benefit is the quality of interaction with the health professional, rather than the degree of hearing loss.” This means that a person with severe hearing loss may be no more likely to use their hearing aids than a person with mild hearing loss. The greatest indicator is how well the person’s hearing health professional communicates and follows up with them.
Professor Dillon is the lead author of a new paper published in the International Journal of Audiology. This paper reports the results of a survey conducted by researchers from the University of Manchester jointly with audiologists from the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board in North Wales. The study evaluated a sample of 10,000 to 16,000 adults per year from 2004 to 2018, using data extracted from national household surveys in Wales, UK.
The survey found that approximately 20 percent of the surveyed adults never use their hearing aids, 30 percent use their devices some of the time, and the remaining 50 percent use their hearing aids most of the time. Although this amounts to nearly 50 percent who do not use their hearing aids most of the time, this study still found good news in that the proportion of people who claimed to not use their hearing aids over a 15 year period decreased from 21 percent to 18 percent.
Professor Dillon and his colleagues, including Professor Kevin Munro (University of Manchester), believe that the most effective way to increase hearing aid usage is to improve the communication and follow-up from the hearing healthcare provider to their patient. Professor Dillon said, “We think there is a need for prompter and more proactive follow-up and monitoring once a hearing aid has been prescribed and fitted.”
This type of follow-up may increase the number of people who use their hearing aids because they will be better educated on how to use them and how to make any needed adjustments for enhanced results. There is also a period of adjustment for new hearing aid users and having a health professional follow up during this time may encourage more patients to continue using their hearing aids throughout that adjustment phase and well beyond.
If you believe that you may benefit from hearing aids, or if you have any questions about how to use your hearing aids, we encourage you to contact our hearing healthcare office today. We are eager to assist you.