A team in Nottingham aims to develop easy-to-use, interactive, multi-media video tutorials to provide advice on effective hearing aid use and how best to communicate with family and friends.
The video clips will be given to the patient on a DVD that can be played either through the patient’s television or computer, or via the internet. Family and friends will also be able to gain an understanding of how best to use hearing aids along with tips and hints, enabling them to provide important additional support.
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) has awarded £235,000 to the ‘Research for Patient Benefit’ project. The research is being carried out by a team from the NIHR Biomedical Research Unit in Hearing (NBRUH), University of Nottingham and Nottingham Audiology Services – part of Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust (NUH).
Melanie Ferguson, NUH Consultant Clinical Scientist who is leading the research study, said: “A large amount of information is given to patients when they receive their hearing aids and much of it is often forgotten a few weeks later. Problems that might occur and which could be easily solved if only the patient knew how, often result in the hearing aids ending up in the proverbial kitchen drawer.”
There are nine million people in the UK who have a permanent hearing loss. This causes communication difficulties that can lead to reduced activity and participation in everyday life, social withdrawal and isolation. Although hearing aids are the main treatment for people with hearing loss, of the two million people who have hearing aids, about one-quarter (600,000) do not wear them.
The first phase of the study will obtain opinions from 35 experts in Audiology and Hearing Science across the UK to find out what would be the best information to go into the videos. The researchers will then seek opinions from existing hearing aid users. When the videos are developed, the team at NBRUH and Nottingham Audiology Services will use them in a trial of about 200 hearing aid patients.
Dr Ralph Holme, Director of Biomedical Research, Royal National Institute for Deaf People, said: “A lack of post-fitting support is likely to be an important contributing factor to the non-use of hearing aids, so we very much welcome the proposed project to evaluate the effectiveness of interactive videos to reinforce the information provided by the audiologists. Our experience suggests that this would add value to the patient journey and in turn increase hearing aid use.”
Philip Holt, Past President of the British Academy of Audiology, added: “Research facilities such as NBRUH are now in a fantastic position to spearhead and lead much needed cost-effective research into health service provision. The outcomes of projects evaluating models of service design and delivery, their benefit, effectiveness and value for money will have direct impact and benefit to how our members deliver their services in the future. Positive findings from this research on interactive videos for new hearing aid users would be beneficial to both patients and service providers.”
If the interactive videos are shown to be effective, it is likely that the interactive videos will be incorporated into the standard care for hearing aid patients throughout the NHS.