Claus Nielsen

Research Audiologist

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Examining four common conceptions about first-time versus experienced users of hearing aids

In the hearing-aid community a number of common conceptions seem to exist about how first-time users behave. There is, however, very little scientific evidence available about these conceptions. When a unique opportunity for collaboration arose – offering access to a constant in-flow of first-time users – we decided to carry out the present study.

Data collection

A specifically developed questionnaire was sent to 254 clients at the Resource Centre for Special Needs Education in Nykøbing Falster, Denmark. These clients were either First-Time Users (FTU) or Experienced Users (EXPU) of hearing aids, and they had not participated in research projects before. Along with the questionnaire data, a long list of predictor variables was assembled from the client database. These were used to control for any confounding effects in the analysis, for example the fact that EXPU typically have more hearing loss than FTU.

Examining four common conceptions about-first-time versus experienced users of hearing aids

Examination of common conceptions

A mixture of expected and surprising results was found regarding the four common conceptions listed below:

  • FTU are more bothered by own voice than EXPU. Contrary to the common conception, our data showed no difference between FTU and EXPU on perception of own voice.
  • FTU perceive soft sounds as overly loud when amplified by the hearing aid – not so for the EXPU. This was strongly confirmed by the data.
  • FTU are less likely than EXPU to appreciate amplification of the high frequencies. This common conception was not supported by the data.
  • Compared to EXPU, FTU are less ‘sound-aware’ and less conscious about the compromises involved in using a hearing aid. Again, this hypothesis could not be confirmed by the data.

Further reading

Laugesen S, Vestergaard H, Nielsen C (2005). Common conceptions about first-time versus experienced hearing-aid users: Facts or fiction? Proceedings of the 21st Danavox symposium, p. 261-297.