Audiologist practices: Parent hearing aid education & support

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Journal of the American Academy of Audiology



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Background: Early identification of hearing loss has led to routine fitting of hearing aids in infants and young children. Amplification provides opportunities to optimize child development, although it also introduces challenges for parents to navigate. Audiologists have a central role in providing parents with support to achieve effective management strategies and habits.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore current practices of pediatric audiologists who work with children birth to 5 yr of age, regarding their support of parent learning in achieving effective hearing aid management, identify existing gaps in service delivery, and to determine if audiologists were receptive to receiving training related to effective approaches to provide counseling and support to parents.

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

Study sample: Three hundred and forty-nine surveys were analyzed from pediatric audiologists who provided services to children birth to 5 yr of age. Responses were received from 22 states in the United States.

Data collection and analysis: Responses were collected through the mail and online. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the information.

Results: More than half (61%) of the audiologists in the study had been providing pediatric hearing aid services to children birth to 5 yr of age for >10 yr. Of the audiologists who reported monitoring hours of hearing aid use, the majority reported that they used data logging (90%). More than half of the audiologists (57%) who shared data logging with parents reported that they encountered defensiveness from parents when addressing hearing aid use. Information and skills that were not routinely provided by one-third to one-half of the audiologists included the following: how to get access to loaner hearing aids (30%), available hearing aid options/accessories (33%), available financial assistance (36%), how to teach hearing aid management to other caregivers (38%), how to do hearing aid maintenance (44%), and how to do a Ling 6 sound check (52%). Many audiologists reported they did not frequently collaborate with speech-language pathologists (48%), early interventionists (47%), or physicians (68%). More than half of the audiologists indicated a desire for more training in counseling skills, for all 14 items queried, to support parents with hearing aid management (53-79%), regardless of their previous training experience.

Conclusions: For young children with hearing loss to achieve optimal benefit from auditory experiences for speech and language development, they need evidence-based, comprehensive, and coordinated hearing aid management. Audiologists have an important role for teaching information and skills related to hearing aids, supporting parent learning, and collaborating with other providers. Pediatric audiologists in this study recognized and desired the need for further training in counseling skills that can better prepare them to meet the emotional needs of parents in the hearing aid management process.