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J Audiol Otol. 2018 Oct;22(4):178-188. English. Review. https://doi.org/10.7874/jao.2018.00248
Tran NR , Manchaiah V .
Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, Lamar University, Beaumont, TX, USA. ncoffeen@lamar.edu
Department of Speech and Hearing, School of Allied Health Sciences, Manipal University, Karnataka, India.
Audiology India, Mysore, Karnataka, India.
Abstract

As the population of those with mild to moderate hearing loss increases the need remains for amplification solutions. There is a trend to offer alternative amplification options beyond traditional hearing aids. Due to reduced medical risk associated with the most common types of hearing loss (i.e., presbycusis and noise induced), many individuals with such audiological configurations may have success with direct-to-consumer hearing devices (DCHD). The current paper presents a literature review of studies focused on the outcomes of DCHDs for people with hearing loss. Search of electronic databases were used to identify relevant articles for review. Studies on outcomes of DCHDs mainly focused on older adults and reported consistently positive results in clinical and self-reported outcome measures. Improvements in auditory ability, communicative function, social engagement, quality of life, and reduction of self-reported hearing disability were observed. The nature of the direct-to-consumer method makes it challenging to design studies that will accurately represent outcomes for patients due to the extensive dissimilarities in patient journey and device selection options. Accordingly, a majority of the studies conducted on this topic are of low quality of evidence and only provide short-term (i.e., less than one year) outcomes. In addition, results may have been influenced by researcher and/or clinician involvement in choosing the devices and by provision of additional support (i.e., incorporation of a communication partner and communication strategies training). Overall, the literature suggests positive outcomes and self-reported benefit of DCHDs in older adults with hearing loss. However, additional research is needed in this area to verify outcomes.

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