Self-reported disability and handicap after hearing-aid fitting and benefit of hearing aids: Comparison of fitting procedures, degree of hearing loss, experience with hearing aids and uni- and bilateral fittings
Self-reported outcome on hearing disability and handicap as well as overall health-related quality of life were measured after hearing-aid fitting in a large-scale clinical population. Fitting was performed according to two different procedures in a double-blind study design. We used a comparative procedure based on optimizing speech intelligibility scores and a strictly implemented fitting formula. Hearing disability and handicap were assessed with the hearing handicap and disability inventory and benefit of hearing aids with the abbreviated profile of hearing aid benefit. Effects on health-related quality of life and depression were assessed with the EuroQol-5D questionnaire and the geriatric depression scale. We found that hearing-aid fitting according to either procedure had a significantly positive effect on disability and handicap associated with hearing loss. This effect lasted for several months. Only the effect on disability persisted after 1-year of follow-up. Self-reported benefit from hearing aids was comparable for both fitting procedures. Unaided hearing disability was more pronounced in groups of participants with greater hearing loss, while the benefit of hearing aids was independent from the degree of hearing impairment. First-time hearing aid users reported greater benefit from their hearing aids. The added value from a bilateral hearing-aid fitting was not significant. Overall health-related quality of life and incidence of depression did not alter after hearing-aid fitting.