Age-related hearing loss is a common problem for people age 50 years and older. Hearing loss causes people to have difficulty following conversations with family, friends, and coworkers, and is especially difficult when there is background noise, such as in a group setting or a restaurant. Hearing loss can also make it difficult for people to listen to TV at a volume that is comfortable for others or to talk on the telephone. These difficulties can also be frustrating for family members of those with hearing loss.
If left untreated, hearing loss may lead people to avoid social situations or become depressed. Hearing aids are the primary treatment option for age-related hearing loss. Because age-related hearing loss occurs in both ears, healthcare professionals follow clinical practice guidelines that recommend two hearing aids for most people with age-related hearing loss. However, a recent review of all available studies in the scientific literature comparing the benefit of two hearing aids over just one hearing aid concluded that there is little evidence showing that two hearing aids are better than one hearing aid for most people with mild to moderate age-related hearing loss. This is important because contemporary hearing aids are expensive.
This study aims to compare the benefits of two hearing aids to one hearing aid. Patients with age-related hearing loss who are seeking hearing aids for the first time can participate. Interested patients will read the informed consent for the study, ask questions, and decide whether to participate. If they decide to participate, the project team will randomly assign them to one of three groups: one-hearing-aid group, two-hearing-aid group, or a group where participants choose between one or two hearing aids.
Participants will wear their assigned hearing aids for three months. The team will make measurements of hearing function and ask how patients think about their hearing function through surveys before, during, and after their hearing aid trial period.
The results of this project will provide information to patients and healthcare professionals on whether two hearing aids are better than one hearing aid for the treatment of mild to moderate age-related hearing loss. The study results will also determine which patients would have the best results with one or two hearing aids. Patients with hearing loss and their significant others will collaborate with the study team on all parts of the project. They will advise the team on the best questions to ask, the factors that are most important to measure, data interpretation, and will help explain the study results to the public.
Other Health Services Interventions
Training and Education Interventions
*This project was initially titled "Addressing the Clinical Dilemma and Patient Preference for Unilateral versus Bilateral Hearing Aids"