Hearing Aid Outcomes in Patients with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Objectives: The purpose of this study was to compare hearing difficulties and hearing aid outcomes in veterans with Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to a group of veterans with no medical diagnosis of PTSD. Our hypothesis was that veterans with PTSD would have poorer hearing aid outcomes in certain domains (e.g., those related to loudness or interactions with the environment) relative to patients without PTSD. Assessing these differences could help identify unique factors that may lead to the development of tailored aural rehabilitation for hearing aid users with PTSD.

Design: This descriptive study employed subjective outcome measures and surveys; the Abbreviated Profile for Hearing Aid Benefit (APHAB) served as the primary outcome measure. An additional questionnaire was developed to assess views of the subjects’ hearing in unaided and aided conditions in an effort to explore the relation between hearing aid benefit and PTSD symptoms. A total of 60 veterans with sensorineural hearing loss and bilateral hearing aid use were recruited from the Audiology Clinic at the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Mountain Home, TN. Participants were divided into two groups of subjects either with or without PTSD (n=30 in each). Diagnosis of PTSD was confirmed via a chart review of the veteran’s medical record.

Results: Results from the APHAB revealed a significant difference between groups in global benefit scores as well as the aversiveness subscale in the unaided condition. Overall, the PTSD group showed lower benefit scores, however outcomes indicated that both groups received benefit when aided. Results from the study questionnaire showed a significant difference between the two groups in both unaided and aided conditions for the questions focused on hyper-arousal and re-experiencing symptoms.

Conclusions: Hearing aid users with PTSD perceive less benefit from hearing aid use on traditional hearing aid outcome measures. Additionally, these hearing aid users were more affected by hyper-arousal, re-experiencing symptoms, and avoidance compared to hearing aid users without PTSD. The clinical implications of this work suggest that hearing aid users with PTSD may need modified hearing aid fittings and/or additional counseling to meet their unique listening needs.


Scottsdale, AZ

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