Clinical Trials and Outcome Measures in Adults with Hearing Loss

Kevin Munro, William M Whitmer, Antje Heinrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Clinical trials are designed to evaluate interventions that prevent, diagnose or treat a health condition and provide the evidence base for improving practice in health care. Many health professionals, including those working within or allied to hearing health, are expected to conduct or contribute to clinical trials. Recent systematic reviews of clinical trials reveal a dearth of high quality evidence in almost all areas of hearing health practice. By providing an overview of important steps and considerations concerning the design, analysis and conduct of trials, this article aims to give guidance to hearing health professionals about the key elements that define the quality of a trial. The article starts out by situating clinical trials within the greater scope of clinical evidence, then discusses the elements of a PICO-style research questions. Subsequently, various methodological considerations are discussed including design, randomization, blinding, and outcome measures. Because the literature on outcome measures within hearing health is as confusing as it is voluminous, particular focus is given to discussing how hearing-related outcome measures affect clinical trials. This focus encompasses how the choice of measurement instrument(s) affects interpretation, how the accuracy of a measure can be estimated, how this affects the interpretation of results, and if differences are statistically, perceptually and/or clinically meaningful to the target population, people with hearing loss.

Keywords: clinical trials, outcome measures, Minimal important difference, Interventions, Hearing Loss, hearing-related outcomes, Clinically meaningful

Received: 29 Jun 2021; Accepted: 20 Oct 2021.

Copyright: © 2021 Munro, Whitmer and Heinrich. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Prof. Kevin J. Munro, The University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom

Disclaimer: All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article or claim that may be made by its manufacturer is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.
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Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 20 Oct 2021


  • Clinical trials
  • Outcome measures
  • Minimal important difference
  • Interventions
  • Hearing Loss
  • Hearing-related outcomes
  • Clinically meaningful


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