Project Summary

PCORI has identified hearing loss as an important research topic. Patients, caregivers, clinicians, and others want to learn: How do treatments for mild to moderate age-related hearing loss, such as hearing aids and other supports, compare? To help answer this question, PCORI launched an initiative in 2019 on Treatment Options for Age-Related Hearing Loss. The initiative funded this research project and others.

This research project is in progress. PCORI will post the research findings on this page within 90 days after the results are final.

What is the research about?

Hearing loss is a common problem among older adults. Many older adults benefit from taking part in social activities but doing so can be hard for adults with hearing loss. In many assisted living facilities, an audiologist visits each month to help residents manage hearing loss. An audiologist is a healthcare provider trained to diagnose and treat hearing loss. But some residents need more help managing their hearing loss than monthly visits provide.

In this study, the research team is comparing two programs for managing hearing loss in older adults living in assisted living facilities. In the Engage program, residents receive care from an audiologist each month, and trained staff provide hearing support throughout the month. For example, residents may receive devices to hear the telephone or television; or they may get help with their hearing aid. In the Consult program, residents receive care from an audiologist each month with no additional support.

Who can this research help?

Results may help assisted living facilities considering ways to help residents with age-related hearing loss.

What is the research team doing?

The research team is enrolling 520 residents from eight assisted living facilities in the Pittsburgh area. All facilities use the Consult program at the start of the study. Every five months, the team assigns two facilities by chance to switch to the Engage program.

Every five months, the research team is surveying residents, family members, and staff. Resident surveys ask about satisfaction with social activities and quality of life related to hearing. Staff surveys ask about work satisfaction. Family surveys ask about caregiver burden. The team is comparing these outcomes between the two programs.

Residents of assisted living facilities, family members, and staff are providing input to the research team.  

Research methods at a glance

Design Element Description
Design Stepped-wedge cluster randomized trial
Population 520 participants over age 59 living in 1 of 8 assisted living or personal care facilities
  • Consult program
  • Engage program

Primary: satisfaction with social participation, hearing-specific quality of life

Secondary: satisfaction with social participation, hearing-specific quality of life

Timeframe 20-month follow-up for primary outcomes

Project Information

Catherine Palmer, PhD
University of Pittsburgh
HearCARE: Hearing for Communication and Resident Engagement

Key Dates

November 2019
November 2024

Study Registration Information


Award Type
Health Conditions Health Conditions These are the broad terms we use to categorize our funded research studies; specific diseases or conditions are included within the appropriate larger category. Note: not all of our funded projects focus on a single disease or condition; some touch on multiple diseases or conditions, research methods, or broader health system interventions. Such projects won’t be listed by a primary disease/condition and so won’t appear if you use this filter tool to find them. View Glossary
Populations Populations PCORI is interested in research that seeks to better understand how different clinical and health system options work for different people. These populations are frequently studied in our portfolio or identified as being of interest by our stakeholders. View Glossary
Intervention Strategy Intervention Strategies PCORI funds comparative clinical effectiveness research (CER) studies that compare two or more options or approaches to health care, or that compare different ways of delivering or receiving care. View Glossary
State State The state where the project originates, or where the primary institution or organization is located. View Glossary
Last updated: October 18, 2023