Parent hearing aid experiences in the United States

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Journal of American Academy of Audiology





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Background: Children born with permanent hearing loss have the opportunity to receive services earlier as a result of newborn hearing screening (NHS). We conducted a survey to address three aspects within the early hearing detection and intervention (EHDI) process: (1) timeliness of service delivery, (2) hearing device access, and (3) hearing aid management. Parent experiences provide valuable information in identifying existing challenges for these components of the EHDI system.

Purpose: The aim was to investigate parent experiences as they access and manage hearing aids for their child.

Research design: A cross-sectional, population-based survey was used.

Study sample: Three hundred fifty-two completed surveys from parents of children born between 1977 and 2010 were returned from 45 states in the United States.

Data collection and analysis: Responses were obtained online and through the mail, and were analyzed using descriptive statistics.

Results: Over time, the age of hearing loss identification has decreased to a median of 2 mo, age of first hearing aid fitting has decreased to a median of 5 mo, and the delay between hearing loss identification and hearing aid fitting has remained the same with a median of 2 mo. For children born between 2007 and 2010, the top three challenges parents reported in obtaining hearing aids were (1) paying for hearing aids, (2) accepting the need for hearing aids, and (3) wait time for an appointment. Almost one-half (48%) of the parents reported that they did not receive adequate support from their audiologist in how to check the function of their child's hearing aids.

Conclusions: Significant progress has been made over the past two decades in reducing the age of hearing loss identification and hearing aid fitting for children who do not pass the NHS. However, many children continue to experience delays between hearing loss diagnosis and hearing aid fitting that exceed Joint Committee on Infant Hearing recommendations. The experiences parents reported provide valuable information about areas that need further investigation to improve the process for children with hearing loss.

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