Gabrielle (Gaby) Saunders

Research Area Manager

Help-seeking and rehabilitation:

Perspectives of adults with hearing impairment

As one of the first international and interdisciplinary qualitative studies ever completed in audiology, this study investigated the perspectives of hearing-impaired adults regarding help-seeking and rehabilitation


Participants were hearing-impaired adults from Australia, Denmark, the UK and the US. Some had never sought help. Some had sought help but had not obtained hearing aids. Others had obtained hearing aids but were either not using them, were unsatisfied with them, or were satisfied with them. Each participant completed an interview. Content analysis - a form of qualitative analysis - was used to extract the main perspectives of participants regarding help-seeking and rehabilitation.


The perspectives of participants centred around four main topics: ‘Perceiving my hearing impairment’, ‘Seeking hearing help’, ‘Using my hearing aids’, and ‘Perspectives and knowledge’. They made sense of their experiences in the context of their daily lives when trying to make sense of their hearing. For example, rather than describing the initial hearing-aid fitting as an important episode, the participants emphasised aspects relevant to their daily lives - such as the guidance they received on hearing-aid use and care.

A mismatch

Hearing-impaired adults rarely described help-seeking and rehabilitation as a process or a journey, and seldom portrayed interactions with clinicians as events chronologically ordered and relating to a common goal. However, this is a common view for clinicians. This points to a mismatch between how adults with hearing impairment and their clinicians approach help-seeking and rehabilitation. The results advocate for a client-centred approach to hearing rehabilitation.

Further reading

Knudsen LV, Laplante-Lévesque A, Jones L, Preminger JE, Nielsen C, Lunner T, Hickson L, Naylor G, Kramer SE (2012). Conducting Qualitative Research in Audiology - a Tutorial. International Journal of Audiology, 51(2), p. 83-92.

Laplante-Lévesque A, Knudsen LV, Preminger JE, Jones L, Nielsen C, Öberg M, Lunner T, Hickson L, Naylor G, Kramer S (2012). Hearing Help-Seeking and Rehabilitation Perspectives of Adults with Hearing Impairment. International Journal of Audiology, 51(2), p. 93-102.

Knudsen LV, Nielsen C, Kramer SE, Jones L, Laplante-Lévesque A (2013). Client labour: The participation of people with hearing impairment in their hearing help-seeking and rehabilitation. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 24(3), p. 192-204.
Preminger JE, Laplante-Lévesque A. (2014). Perceptions of age and brain in relation to hearing help seeking and rehabilitation. Ear and Hearing, 35(1), pp. 19-29.

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