Cutting-edge research aimed at increasing adult hearing aid use could make a dramatic change to people with hearing loss.
The FAMOUS study aims to resolve the thousands of instances of low use of hearing aids in adults with hearing loss. It is a collaboration between the NIHR’s three BRCs with specialist hearing themes: UCLH, Nottingham, and Manchester BRC who are leading the work.
Professor Kevin Munro, NIHR Manchester BRC Hearing Health Lead and Professor of Audiology at The University of Manchester said: “We know that hearing aids improve communication and quality of life in adults with hearing loss, however, our previous research has shown that 30 per cent of people given hearing aids don’t use them as often as recommended and a further 20 per cent don’t use them at all.”
Professor Anne Schilder, Director of NIHR UCLH BRC Hearing Theme and National Specialty Lead of the NIHR Clinical Research Network ENT, said: “We are looking forward to working with audiologists from NHS hearing aid services across the UK. Their involvement will not only drive the success of this research but also the uptake of the evidence it produces into future hearing practice.”
Hearing loss has significant impact on communication, wellbeing, quality of life and economic independence (including employment) and left untreated may increase the risk of developing mental health and cognitive problems. This research aims to increase hearing aid use – testing efficient and cost-effective measures to encourage and support this.
To increase the amount of time that new users wear their hearing aids, the researchers, in collaboration with patient and public panels, have devised a four step strategy (intervention) for audiologists and people with hearing loss. The strategy includes encouraging patients to reflect on situations in which hearing is difficult and where hearing aids may help, and an individualised action plan to reinforce where and when to use the hearing aids.
The three year study will recruit around 6,000 adults who will either follow the new strategy to improve hearing aid use or the current care plan, when fitted with a hearing aid. The primary aim is to learn if the intervention results in a higher level of hearing aid use one year after initial fitting compared to adults who receive the current standard care.
The research is funded by the NIHR Health Technology Assessment (HTA) Programme. The HTA funds research around the clinical and cost-effectiveness and broader impact of healthcare treatments and tests for those who plan, provide or receive care from NHS and social care services.