Online Rehabilitation Programs Show Promise for Hearing-Aid Users Internet-based rehabilitation programs could provide positive outcomes for experienced hearing-aid users with moderate hearing loss, finds new research from Sweden’s Linköping University and hearing-aid manufacturer Oticon’s Eriksholm Research Centre in Denmark. In two trials gauging the effectiveness of online rehabilitation, the scientists, led by Eriksholm’s Elisabet Sundewall Thorén, found that ... Research in Brief
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Research in Brief  |   November 01, 2015
Online Rehabilitation Programs Show Promise for Hearing-Aid Users
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Hearing Aids, Cochlear Implants & Assistive Technology / Research in Brief
Research in Brief   |   November 01, 2015
Online Rehabilitation Programs Show Promise for Hearing-Aid Users
The ASHA Leader, November 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.20112015.np
The ASHA Leader, November 2015, Vol. 20, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.RIB4.20112015.np
Internet-based rehabilitation programs could provide positive outcomes for experienced hearing-aid users with moderate hearing loss, finds new research from Sweden’s Linköping University and hearing-aid manufacturer Oticon’s Eriksholm Research Centre in Denmark.
In two trials gauging the effectiveness of online rehabilitation, the scientists, led by Eriksholm’s Elisabet Sundewall Thorén, found that the Internet may be used to deliver rehabilitation that positively affects users’ activity and participation. The developers hope that the online method could give patients more access and increase their motivation to seek proper hearing health care.
In a two-part study published in the American Journal of Audiology, a total of 134 adults who wore hearing aids for moderate hearing loss but still experienced residual hearing problems were split into four groups in two trials. Two intervention groups completed a five-week online rehabilitation program, while the other two served as controls. Intervention participants learned about hearing, hearing aids, communication strategies and hearing tactics; read materials; completed assessments; and had weekly contact with audiologists.
The first trial’s control group had access to an online discussion forum where participants could discuss weekly topics with others in the group, but they had no access to audiologists. The second trial’s control group members were wait-listed as volunteers to complete the program later after the original group trial was finished, and did not have access to the forum.
The volunteers evaluated the program through self-reports before and immediately after the study, as well as a few months after. The researchers, measuring the results through the Hearing Handicap Inventory of the Elderly (HHIE), found that both the intervention and control participants from the first trial showed improvement immediately after the study, though the intervention group had significantly more improvement. But after six months, although both groups maintained improvement, there was no difference between the two.
In the second trial, the intervention group showed significant increases in activity and participation on the HHIE, while control participants with no access to an online forum to chat with peers showed no gains. The results suggest online interaction both with audiologists and with peers can positively affect participants’ activity and participation, the authors note. However, they mention limitations surrounding volunteers, who were recruited through newspaper advertisements and, therefore, were acting on their own interests and motivations. They were also well-educated and had worn hearing aids for an average of eight years.
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November 2015
Volume 20, Issue 11