Damage to hearing entails a major life change for the afflicted person and for those around him or her. To begin with, many suffer from stress and depression while trying to gradually begin to accept the disability and finding ways of managing it.
Vinaya Kumar Channapatna Manchaiah has studied the nature of this process in a new thesis from Linköping University.
Mr Channapatna is further developing a model first developed by the Ida Institute in Denmark for the patient’s process during the course of the illness and treatment. He identifies two new phases: “self-evaluation” for the patient and “adaptation” for those around the patient, including friends and family. In total, patients that are gradually experiencing deterioration in their hearing go through seven phases in accepting the disability. Pre-awareness (feelings of frustration and/or denial of the problem); awareness (recognising the problem and beginning to evaluate it); movement (seeking help); diagnostics; rehabilitation; self-evaluation (looking to oneself for causes of the hearing impairment, how serious it is and what effect it is having); and resolution (beginning to accept hearing impairment and to adapt one’s life to it).
The process towards acceptance is different depending on whether the hearing impairment arrives gradually or occurs abruptly. While sudden onset hearing impairment can be very frightening and drastic, the patient’s journey through the phases is often quicker and the first phase – pre-awareness – does not occur at all.
Accepting the new disability is difficult for many people and often leads to anxiety and depression. Mr Channapatna has developed a questionnaire regarding acceptance of hearing disability.
On 25 October, he defended his thesis, entitled “Evaluating the process of change: Studies on patient journey, hearing disability acceptance and stages-of-change”.
Two other PhD students recently defended their theses on hearing impairment at the Disability Studies unit at Linköping University. On 29 October Elaine H.N. Ng defended her thesis, entitled “Cognition in Hearing Aid Users: Memory for Everyday Speech”. On 8 November, Elisabet Classon defended her thesis, entitled “Acquired hearing impairment: Phonological decline and compensatory working memory”.
LiU – Expanding reality
Linköping University in Sweden is a research-based university with excellence in education and a strong tradition of interdisciplinarity and innovation.