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Barriers and facilitators to hearing aid uptake in older females : a qualitative report Winsor, Danielle Andrea


Although hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions among older adults in Canada, affecting more than 30% of the population over the age of 65 (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2006), it is surprising that only 15% to 25% of people with hearing loss actually use hearing assistive technology such as hearing aids (Cohen-Mansfield & Taylor, 2004a; Edwards & Jones, 1998; Gilhome Herbst, Meredith, & Stephens, 1991). A review by Jenstad and Moon (2011) of the literature on barriers and facilitators to hearing aid use reported 7 types of barriers and/or facilitators: effects of hearing loss on quality of life, cost, personality/psychological factors, stigma, degree of hearing loss, age, and gender. The purpose of the current study was to use qualitative methods to further investigate the facilitators and barriers to hearing aid uptake as reported by females with age-related hearing loss. Nine women between 60 and 75 years of age and diagnosed with hearing loss were interviewed, five of whom had decided to get hearing aids while the remaining four had not. Through semi-structured interviews analyzed thematically, the overarching theme identified was dynamism. Dynamism is the interplay of factors that influence each individual’s decision regarding hearing aid uptake. Within the overarching theme of dynamism, 4 themes were identified: self-perceived hearing, information gathering and informed decision making, influence of others, and associated cost. Specific clinical applications of the results include: the provision of unbiased sources of information regarding hearing and hearing loss, careful word choice of the clinician, and the need for rapport between the clinician and client. The results of this study underscore the need for qualitative research on hearing aid uptake in males and in other age groups, as well as the need for further examination of the impact of information gathering and the influence of others on hearing aid uptake.

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