Impact of hearing aid technology level at first-fit on self-reported outcomes in patients with presbycusis: A randomized controlled trial

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To provide clinical guidance in hearing aid prescription for older adults with presbycusis, we investigated differences in self-reported hearing abilities and hearing aid effectiveness for premium or basic hearing aid users. Secondly, as an explorative analysis, we investigated if differences in gain prescription verified with real-ear measurements explain differences in self-reported outcomes. The study was designed as a randomized controlled trial in which the patients were blinded towards the purpose of the study. In total, 190 first-time hearing aid users (>60 years of age) with symmetric bilateral presbycusis were fitted with either a premium or basic hearing aid. The randomization was stratified on age, sex, and word recognition score. Two outcome questionnaires were distributed: the International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids (IOI-HA) and the short form of the Speech, Spatial, and Qualities of Hearing Scale (SSQ-12). In addition, insertion gains were calculated from real-ear measurements at first-fit for all fitted hearing aids. Premium hearing aid users reported 0.7 (95%CI: 0.2; 1.1) scale points higher total SSQ-12 score per item and 0.8 (95%CI: 0.2; 1.4) scale points higher speech score per item, as well as 0.6 (95%CI: 0.2; 1.1) scale points higher qualities score compared to basic-feature hearing aid users. No significant differences in reported hearing aid effectiveness were found using the IOI-HA. Differences in the prescribed gain at 1 and 2 kHz were observed between premium and basic hearing aids within each company. Premium-feature devices yielded slightly better self-reported hearing abilities than basic-feature devices, but a statistically significant difference was only found in three out of seven outcome variables, and the effect was small. The generalizability of the study is limited to community-dwelling older adults with presbycusis. Thus, further research is needed for understanding the potential effects of hearing aid technology for other populations. Hearing care providers should continue to insist on research to support the choice of more costly premium technologies when prescribing hearing aids for older adults with presbycusis.

TidsskriftFrontiers in Aging
StatusUdgivet - 1. jun. 2023


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