Listening preferences of new adult hearing aid users: a registered, double-blind, randomized, mixed-methods clinical trial of initial versus real-ear fit

Ibrahim Almufarrij, Harvey Dillon, Benjamin Adams, Aneela Greval, Kevin Munro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Hearing aid verification with real-ear measurement (REM) is recommended clinical practice. Improvements, over time, in accuracy of manufacturers’ initial fit mean the benefit of routine REM for new adult users is unclear. This pre-registered, double-blinded, randomized, mixed-methods clinical trial aimed to (i) determine whether new adult hearing aid users prefer initial or real-ear fit and (ii) investigate the reasons for preferences. New adult hearing aid users (n=45) were each fitted with two programs: the initial fit and real-ear fit, both with adjustments based on immediate feedback from the patient. Participants were asked to complete daily paired-comparisons of the two programs with a magnitude estimation of the preference, one for each of clarity/comfort in quiet/noise as well as overall preference. The results revealed gain adjustment requests were low in number and small in magnitude. Deviation from NAL-NL2 targets (after adjustment for a 65 dB SPL input) was close to zero, except at high frequencies where real-ear fits were around 3 dB closer to target. There was no difference in clarity ratings between programs, but comfort ratings favored initial fit. Overall, 10 participants (22%) expressed a preference for real-ear fit. Reasons for preference were primarily based on comfort with the initial fit and clarity with real-ear fit. It may be acceptable to fit new adult users with mild-to-moderate hearing loss without the need for REMs, if the primary outcome of interest is user preference. It remains to be seen if the findings generalize to other fitting software and other outcome measures.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTrends in Hearing
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jun 2023

Keywords

  • Hearing aids
  • click and fit
  • initial fit
  • real-ear measurements
  • probe-tube measurements
  • verification
  • preference

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