Project Title

Aspects of Counseling Influencing Hearing Aid Acceptance in Tinnitus Management

Authors' Affiliations

Kendal Fox, Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN Marc Fagelson, Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN and Audiology and Speech Pathology Service, James H. Quillen VA Medical Center, Mountain Home, TN Owen Murnane, Department of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, College of Clinical and Rehabilitative Health Sciences, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN and Audiology and Speech Pathology Service, James H. Quillen VA Medical Center, Mountain Home, TN

Faculty Sponsor’s Department

Audiology & Speech Pathology

Additional Sponsors

Owen Murnane, owen.murnane@va.gov

Type

Oral Non-Competitive

Classification of First Author

Graduate Student-Doctoral

Project's Category

Patient Care and Education

Abstract Text

Hearing loss and tinnitus are the two most common service-connected disabilities in Veterans. Patients with a chief complaint of hearing loss and/or tinnitus typically undergo a hearing evaluation to determine the severity and type of hearing loss. The standard treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is the fitting of personal amplification.Up to 95% of tinnitus patients have an underlying hearing loss and could benefit from hearing aids for both improved communication and as an effective treatment to reduce the impact of tinnitus, ((Shargorodsky, Curhan, & Farwell, 2010). It is not uncommon, however, for some of these patients to decline hearing aids although they elect to undergo tinnitus counseling. The observation that some of these patients elected to obtain hearing aids following tinnitus counseling compelled an investigation of tinnitus counseling’s role in the patient’s revised decision to accept hearing aid fitting. An electronic medical records review (2015- 2020) identified Veterans meeting the following criteria: (1) diagnosis of sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus, (2) declined hearing aids at the time of the hearing evaluation, (3) received tinnitus counseling, (4) elected to obtain hearing aids following tinnitus counseling, and (5) affirmed regular use of the hearing aids for more than one year. 30 qualified veterans provided informed consent to participate. Enrolled participants were interviewed using a brief survey that allowed patients to report a variety of tinnitus and hearing-related challenges. Participants also completed a validated tinnitus intake form, the tinnitus handicap inventory (THI), which reports a patient’s self-assessed tinnitus handicap. A total of six Veterans (white males, average age of 60 years, with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and bothersome tinnitus) participated. The number of hours of daily hearing aid use was related to the self-perceived benefit of hearing aids for the management of tinnitus, as the 5 participants who wore their hearing aids >5 hours/day reported benefit in contrast to the single participant who wore their hearing aids /day. The reported benefit of tinnitus counseling, however, was not reflected as a significant improvement in the post-counseling THI score. All participants reported the counseling was useful and recommended that other veterans experiencing tinnitus and hearing loss undergo a trial with hearing aids . A narrative analysis of additional information provided by participants was made to identify counseling elements that supported the use of hearing aids for tinnitus management. In general, the analysis indicated that when patients were provided accurate information regarding tinnitus management strategy options, then they might be more likely than uninformed patients to accept and act upon hearing aid recommendations in a timely manner. All participants suggested that the provision of more information regarding tinnitus and management options at the time of the hearing evaluation would have likely expedited hearing aid acceptance. The preliminary findings of this survey suggest that patients with a diagnosis of sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus might benefit from some form of tinnitus management counseling at the time of the initial hearing evaluation, and that the counseling might facilitate uptake of hearing aids.

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Aspects of Counseling Influencing Hearing Aid Acceptance in Tinnitus Management

Hearing loss and tinnitus are the two most common service-connected disabilities in Veterans. Patients with a chief complaint of hearing loss and/or tinnitus typically undergo a hearing evaluation to determine the severity and type of hearing loss. The standard treatment for sensorineural hearing loss is the fitting of personal amplification.Up to 95% of tinnitus patients have an underlying hearing loss and could benefit from hearing aids for both improved communication and as an effective treatment to reduce the impact of tinnitus, ((Shargorodsky, Curhan, & Farwell, 2010). It is not uncommon, however, for some of these patients to decline hearing aids although they elect to undergo tinnitus counseling. The observation that some of these patients elected to obtain hearing aids following tinnitus counseling compelled an investigation of tinnitus counseling’s role in the patient’s revised decision to accept hearing aid fitting. An electronic medical records review (2015- 2020) identified Veterans meeting the following criteria: (1) diagnosis of sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus, (2) declined hearing aids at the time of the hearing evaluation, (3) received tinnitus counseling, (4) elected to obtain hearing aids following tinnitus counseling, and (5) affirmed regular use of the hearing aids for more than one year. 30 qualified veterans provided informed consent to participate. Enrolled participants were interviewed using a brief survey that allowed patients to report a variety of tinnitus and hearing-related challenges. Participants also completed a validated tinnitus intake form, the tinnitus handicap inventory (THI), which reports a patient’s self-assessed tinnitus handicap. A total of six Veterans (white males, average age of 60 years, with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and bothersome tinnitus) participated. The number of hours of daily hearing aid use was related to the self-perceived benefit of hearing aids for the management of tinnitus, as the 5 participants who wore their hearing aids >5 hours/day reported benefit in contrast to the single participant who wore their hearing aids /day. The reported benefit of tinnitus counseling, however, was not reflected as a significant improvement in the post-counseling THI score. All participants reported the counseling was useful and recommended that other veterans experiencing tinnitus and hearing loss undergo a trial with hearing aids . A narrative analysis of additional information provided by participants was made to identify counseling elements that supported the use of hearing aids for tinnitus management. In general, the analysis indicated that when patients were provided accurate information regarding tinnitus management strategy options, then they might be more likely than uninformed patients to accept and act upon hearing aid recommendations in a timely manner. All participants suggested that the provision of more information regarding tinnitus and management options at the time of the hearing evaluation would have likely expedited hearing aid acceptance. The preliminary findings of this survey suggest that patients with a diagnosis of sensorineural hearing loss and tinnitus might benefit from some form of tinnitus management counseling at the time of the initial hearing evaluation, and that the counseling might facilitate uptake of hearing aids.

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