The process of recognising the need for hearing help: a grounded theory study
This PhD study used a qualitative approach to illuminate why people often are slow to seek hearing help. The study identified a process of four stages towards recognition, but did not find evidence of stigma.
A large proportion of people who could benefit from hearing-aid fittings either never acquire hearing aids, or do so very late. One approach to this issue is to describe the processes (emotional or psychosocial) which people typically go through to become ‘ready’ for hearing help, and then to devise ways to help people towards true readiness.
To a large extent, these processes go on before the client ever meets a hearing care professional, so the potential for this study to generate innovation in dispensing processes is limited. Nevertheless, this type of work can inspire methods to ensure that the crucial first meeting with a hearing care professional leads to success rather than rejection, plus appropriate ways of addressing the general public.
With this type of research question, qualitative methods are highly appropriate. The method chosen here was Grounded Theory according to Glaser1, whereby concepts emerging from the collected data form an explanatory model which is not strictly proven, but is ‘grounded’ in the data. Interviews were carried out with fourteen adults with varying degrees of hearing problems. Some had scarcely begun the process of recognising their hearing loss, while others were in process with clinical services, or were hearing-aid users.