Dispensing Rates of Four Common Hearing Aid Product Features: Associations With Variations in Practice Among Audiologists

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The purpose of the study was to develop and examine a list of potential variables that may account for variability in the dispensing rates of four common hearing aid features. A total of 29 potential variables were identified and placed into the following categories: (1) characteristics of the audiologist, (2) characteristics of the hearing aids dispensed by the audiologist, (3) characteristics of the audiologist?s patient population, and (4) evidence-based practice grades of recommendation for each feature. The potentially associative variables then were examined using regression analyses from the responses of 257 audiologists to a dispensing practice survey. There was a direct relation between price and level of hearing aid technology with the frequency of dispensing product features. There was also a direct relation between the belief by the audiologist that a feature might benefit patients and the frequency of dispensing that feature. In general, the results suggested that personal differences among audiologists and the hearing aids audiologists choose to dispense are related more strongly to dispensing rates of product features than to differences in characteristics of the patient population served by audiologists. An additional finding indicated that evidence-based practice recommendations were inversely related to dispensing rates of product features. This finding, however, may not be the result of dispensing trends as much as hearing aid manufacturing trends.