Project Title

Public Knowledge and Opinions on Differences Between Hearing Professionals

Authors' Affiliations

Brandy Marion,Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Dr. Marc Fagelson, Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Dr. Saravanan Elangovan, Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN. Dr. Marcy Lau, Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN.

Location

Ballroom

Start Date

4-12-2019 9:00 AM

End Date

4-12-2019 2:30 PM

Poster Number

94

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Audiology & Speech Pathology

Name of Project's Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Marc Fagelson

Type

Poster: Non-Competitive

Classification of First Author

Graduate Student-Doctoral

Project's Category

Patient Care and Education, Health Services Delivery

Abstract Text

Both audiologists and hearing instrument specialists (HIS) can assess hearing loss and fit hearing aids; consumers interested in purchasing hearing aids can choose the type of hearing professional they see. However, there are vast differences in required training and scope of practice for each professional and advanced test batteries, such as those associated with vestibular assessment and tinnitus management, may distinguish the two professional groups more thoroughly than standard hearing testing and hearing aid fitting. This study aimed to determine the knowledge and opinions the average individual possesses regarding differences between these two types of hearing professionals in order to identify areas in which audiologists can more effectively differentiate themselves from hearing instrument specialists.

A one-time survey was administered at 3 locations to a total of 47 English-speaking participants over the age of 18. Locations included the 2018 Remote Area Medical event in Gray, TN; the Johnson City Senior Center, and the Bristol Public Library. The survey consisted of 8 demographic questions with 3 additional questions if the participant wore hearing aids, followed by 18 questions that covered “Diagnostics,” “Intervention,” and “Interpersonal Patient Interactions.” Responses were analyzed for trends in overall data as well as in sub-categories for gender, household income, education level, age, and hearing aid use.

Overall, participants tended to believe audiologists were most likely to perform tasks in the “Diagnostic” category, while a majority of participants believed both professionals could perform tasks in the “Intervention” category. There was no clear trend within the “Interpersonal Patient Interactions” category. Most participants believed that either both professional groups, or only audiologists, could perform most tasks adequately, indicating subjects likely do understand differences between the two professionals.

In analyzing results, two issues emerged. The first was that the majority of participants believed that they would not be likely to pay a reasonable price for hearing aids when visiting either professional. One reason may be that only a few hearing aid companies produce most of the world’s hearing aids, leaving little room for low-cost competition. The “bundled” method which most hearing healthcare providers use for selling hearing aids along with services might also exert an influence on the perception of hearing aid pricing and may not be clear to patients who try to understand the actual cost of devices and services.

Another issue identified in this survey was access. A significant number of respondents believed it was difficult to make and attend appointments with either professional, signifying a possible deficit in this area in access to hearing healthcare. The barriers to access included income, availability of transportation, inconvenient provider hours, and lack of insurance coverage. The results suggested that audiologists and HISs face challenges when recommending personal hearing devices to support rehabilitative efforts. Additionally, the provision of services that utilize advanced diagnostic batteries, such as balance assessment and tinnitus services, may offer audiologists an opportunity to distinguish their practices from those managed by HISs.

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Apr 12th, 9:00 AM Apr 12th, 2:30 PM

Public Knowledge and Opinions on Differences Between Hearing Professionals

Ballroom

Both audiologists and hearing instrument specialists (HIS) can assess hearing loss and fit hearing aids; consumers interested in purchasing hearing aids can choose the type of hearing professional they see. However, there are vast differences in required training and scope of practice for each professional and advanced test batteries, such as those associated with vestibular assessment and tinnitus management, may distinguish the two professional groups more thoroughly than standard hearing testing and hearing aid fitting. This study aimed to determine the knowledge and opinions the average individual possesses regarding differences between these two types of hearing professionals in order to identify areas in which audiologists can more effectively differentiate themselves from hearing instrument specialists.

A one-time survey was administered at 3 locations to a total of 47 English-speaking participants over the age of 18. Locations included the 2018 Remote Area Medical event in Gray, TN; the Johnson City Senior Center, and the Bristol Public Library. The survey consisted of 8 demographic questions with 3 additional questions if the participant wore hearing aids, followed by 18 questions that covered “Diagnostics,” “Intervention,” and “Interpersonal Patient Interactions.” Responses were analyzed for trends in overall data as well as in sub-categories for gender, household income, education level, age, and hearing aid use.

Overall, participants tended to believe audiologists were most likely to perform tasks in the “Diagnostic” category, while a majority of participants believed both professionals could perform tasks in the “Intervention” category. There was no clear trend within the “Interpersonal Patient Interactions” category. Most participants believed that either both professional groups, or only audiologists, could perform most tasks adequately, indicating subjects likely do understand differences between the two professionals.

In analyzing results, two issues emerged. The first was that the majority of participants believed that they would not be likely to pay a reasonable price for hearing aids when visiting either professional. One reason may be that only a few hearing aid companies produce most of the world’s hearing aids, leaving little room for low-cost competition. The “bundled” method which most hearing healthcare providers use for selling hearing aids along with services might also exert an influence on the perception of hearing aid pricing and may not be clear to patients who try to understand the actual cost of devices and services.

Another issue identified in this survey was access. A significant number of respondents believed it was difficult to make and attend appointments with either professional, signifying a possible deficit in this area in access to hearing healthcare. The barriers to access included income, availability of transportation, inconvenient provider hours, and lack of insurance coverage. The results suggested that audiologists and HISs face challenges when recommending personal hearing devices to support rehabilitative efforts. Additionally, the provision of services that utilize advanced diagnostic batteries, such as balance assessment and tinnitus services, may offer audiologists an opportunity to distinguish their practices from those managed by HISs.