Communication with hearing aid. A comparative study of of persons with acquired hearing loss within their interactions in private settings and with hearing health practitioners.

    Description

    The project is a part of a European comparative research initiative that aims to understand the communicative problems and health care practices associated with acquired hearing loss among adults. Participating countries are Finland, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the USA. Our research project explores the phenomenon in Finland. In Finland, as in various European countries, 15% of the population suffers from hearing impairment. Yet, despite the rapid developments in hearing aid technology only 20-50% of those who would benefit from a hearing aid actually use one. The reasons behind this are social to a large extent. Research indicates that there is a social stigma associated with hearing impairment.
    Our research project explicates the process in which people in need of medical technologies (such as hearing aids) either adopt them or drop them. The aim is to develop new methods for evaluating the real-life consequences of hearing loss by observing the ways in which participants deal with trouble in hearing and understanding at an early stage of acquiring a hearing aid. Knowledge of possible coping strategies in communication that can be associated with positive self-evaluations following a period of hearing aid use will be gained as well.
    Participants (n=60) for the study in Finland are recruited from the Hearing Centres of Helsinki and Tampere university hospitals. The medical inclusion criteria are senso-neural ‘gradual’ hearing loss affecting both ears, mild to severe audiogram (30-90 dB), and exclusion of other hearing-related conditions such as tinnitus or Ménière. The research setting is longitudinal lasting approximately eight months. The data consists of completed pre-questionnaires (Finnish version of Denver scale of communication function, Inquiry of expectations concerning the use of hearing aid), self-evaluations (International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids), and video-recordings of the encounters with the medical experts and with family and friends.
    The data is analyzed with quantitative (statistics) and qualitative approaches. Conversation analysis will be the principal method for analyzing the video-recorded data. We will pursue the question of how the reported macro phenomena associated with hearing loss are achieved at the central place where they are experienced, namely in interpersonal interaction. For the first time, a data base of video-taped interactions is collected in order to be analyzed for the subtle aspects of communication problems in a longitudinal setting and a variety of contexts including health care audiology settings and private encounters.

    The empirical analysis will contribute to an improvement of the life quality of persons with hearing loss and their social environment. The results will provide insights into the interface between audiology and interaction and enhance our understanding of the role of social interaction and social environment in shaping the adoption of new medical assistive technologies. The empirical results will provide a description of ‘best practices’ in the process of acquiring a hearing aid, which can be used in the training of professionals. Further, the results of the research in five participating countries will pool information on these ‘best practices’ in each country, as well as on the different ways of organizing and funding the service system involved in the process. The results thus make possible further analyses in the ways in which the macro-level policies in each country may impact the processes in and through which the service is provided.

    Key words: hearing loss, hearing aid, interaction, evaluation, coping, health care practices
    StatusFinished
    Effective start/end date01/01/201131/12/2014

    Fields of Science

    • 616 Other humanities
    • logopedia
    • 514 Sociology