Hearing aids are the most common and appropriate treatment for most adults with hearing loss. Approximately 40 percent of those over the age of 60 in the US are affected by hearing loss; only 20 percent of these individuals purchase and use hearing aids. The Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act of 2017 is designed to decrease the cost of and make it easier for consumers to purchase and use hearing aids. The best methods for distributing hearing aids without the involvement of a professional are not known. The overall goal of this proposal is to compare two over-the-counter models of hearing aid distribution and fitting against audiology-based best practice (AB), with and without supplemental video learning modules.
This goal will be achieved through the following two specific aims:
- to determine whether brief consumer decides (bCD) and Efficient Fit (EF) models for hearing aid provision are inferior to current audiology-based best practices (AB); and
- to evaluate the effectiveness of a video-based supplemental education program in empowering and activating the new hearing aid wearer.
Outcomes of hearing aid use when the hearing aid is fit using one of three possible methods (AB, bCD, and EF) will be measured after six weeks and six months of hearing aid use; the benefits of training on a video-based education program will be measured at the same time points. The basic questions being asked are whether outcomes are similar for the three methods of fitting hearing aids and whether the additional video-based training changes outcomes for any of the three fitting methods. The results of the study would help inform professionals, policy makers, and patients about whether alternate methods of distributing and fitting hearing aids can lead to outcomes similar to those achieved with a licensed healthcare provider.
*All proposed projects, including requested budgets and project periods, are approved subject to a programmatic and budget review by PCORI staff and the negotiation of a formal award contract.