Acquired adult-onset hearing loss is a common long-term condition for which the most common intervention is hearing aid fitting. However, up to 40% of people fitted with a hearing aid either fail to use it or may not gain optimal benefit from it. This is an update of a review first published in The Cochrane Library in 2014.
To assess the long-term effectiveness of interventions to promote the use of hearing aids in adults with acquired hearing loss fitted with at least one hearing aid.
The Cochrane ENT Information Specialist searched the Cochrane ENT Trials Register; Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL 2016, Issue 5); PubMed; EMBASE; CINAHL; Web of Science; ClinicalTrials.gov; ICTRP and additional sources for published and unpublished trials. The date of the search was 13 June 2016.
We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of interventions designed to improve or promote hearing aid use in adults with acquired hearing loss compared with usual care or another intervention. We excluded interventions that compared hearing aid technology. We classified interventions according to the 'chronic care model' (CCM). The primary outcomes were hearing aid use (measured as adherence or daily hours of use) and adverse effects (inappropriate advice or clinical practice, or patient complaints). Secondary patient-reported outcomes included quality of life, hearing handicap, hearing aid benefit and communication. Outcomes were measured over the short (</= 12 weeks), medium (> 12 to < 52 weeks) and long term (one year plus).
We used the standard methodological procedures expected by Cochrane.
We included 37 studies involving a total of 4129 participants. Risk of bias across the included studies was variable. We judged the GRADE quality of evidence to be very low or low for the primary outcomes where data were available.The majority of participants were over 65 years of age with mild to moderate adult-onset hearing loss. There was a mix of new and experienced hearing aid users. Six of the studies (287 participants) assessed long-term outcomes.All 37 studies tested interventions that could be classified using the CCM as self-management support (ways to help someone to manage their hearing loss and hearing aid(s) better by giving information, practice and experience at listening/communicating or by asking people to practise tasks at home) and/or delivery system design interventions (just changing how the service was delivered). Self-management support interventions We found no studies that investigated the effect of these interventions on adherence, adverse effects or hearing aid benefit. Two studies reported daily hours of hearing aid use but we were unable to combine these in a meta-analysis. There was no evidence of a statistically significant effect on quality of life over the medium term. Self-management support reduced short- to medium-term hearing handicap (two studies, 87 participants; mean difference (MD) -12.80, 95% confidence interval (CI) -23.11 to -2.48 (0 to 100 scale)) and increased the use of verbal communication strategies in the short to medium term (one study, 52 participants; MD 0.72, 95% CI 0.21 to 1.23 (0 to 5 scale)). The clinical significance of these statistical findings is uncertain. It is likely that the outcomes were clinically significant for some, but not all, participants. Our confidence in the quality of this evidence was very low. No self-management support studies reported long-term outcomes. Delivery system design interventionsThese interventions did not significantly affect adherence or daily hours of hearing aid use in the short to medium term, or adverse effects in the long term. We found no studies that investigated the effect of these interventions on quality of life. There was no evidence of a statistically or clinically significant effect on hearing handicap, hearing aid benefit or the use of verbal communication strategies in the short to medium term. Our confidence in the quality of this evidence was low or very low. Long-term outcome measurement was rare. Combined self-management support/delivery system design interventionsOne combined intervention showed evidence of a statistically significant effect on adherence in the short term (one study, 167 participants, risk ratio (RR) 1.06, 95% CI 1.00 to 1.12). However, there was no evidence of a statistically or clinically significant effect on daily hours of hearing aid use over the long term, or the short to medium term. No studies of this type investigated adverse effects. There was no evidence of an effect on quality of life over the long term, or short to medium term. These combined interventions reduced hearing handicap in the short to medium term (15 studies, 728 participants; standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.26, 95% CI -0.48 to -0.04). This represents a small-moderate effect size but there is no evidence of a statistically significant effect over the long term. There was evidence of a statistically, but not clinically, significant effect on long-term hearing aid benefit (two studies, 69 participants, MD 0.30, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.58 (1 to 5 scale)), but no evidence of an effect over the short to medium term. There was evidence of a statistically, but not clinically, significant effect on the use of verbal communication strategies in the short term (four studies, 223 participants, MD 0.45, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.74 (0 to 5 scale)), but not the long term. Our confidence in the quality of this evidence was low or very low.We found no studies that assessed the effect of other CCM interventions (decision support, the clinical information system, community resources or health system changes).
There is some low to very low quality evidence to support the use of self-management support and complex interventions combining self-management support and delivery system design in adult auditory rehabilitation. However, effect sizes are small. The range of interventions that have been tested is relatively limited. Future research should prioritise: long-term outcome assessment; development of a core outcome set for adult auditory rehabilitation; and study designs and outcome measures that are powered to detect incremental effects of rehabilitative healthcare system changes.