Real-world hearing aid usage patterns and smartphone connectivity

Jeppe H Christensen, Gabrielle Helena Saunders, Lena Havtorn, Niels H Pontoppidan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Data for monitoring individual hearing aid usage has historically been limited to retrospective questionnaires or data logged intrinsically in the hearing aid cumulatively over time (e.g. days or more). This limits the investigation of longitudinal interactions between hearing aid use and environmental or behavioral factors. Recently it has become possible to analyze remotely logged hearing aid data from in-market and smartphone compatible hearing aids. This can provide access to novel insights about individual hearing aid usage patterns and their association to environmental factors. Here, we use remotely logged longitudinal data from 64 hearing aid users to establish basic norms regarding smartphone connectivity (i.e., comparing remotely logged data with cumulative true hearing aid on-time) and to assess whether such data can provide representative information about ecological usage patterns. The remotely logged data consists of minute-by-minute timestamped logs of cumulative hearing aid on-time and characteristics of the momentary acoustic environment. Using K-means clustering, we demonstrate that hourly hearing aid usage patterns (i.e., usage as minutes/hour) across participants are separated by four clusters that account for almost 50% of the day-to-day variation. The clusters indicate that hearing aids are worn either sparsely throughout the day; early morning to afternoon; from noon to late evening; or across the day from morning to late evening. Using linear mixed-effects regression modeling, we document significant associations between daily signal-to-noise, sound intensity, and sound diversity with hearing aid usage. Participants encounter louder, noisier, and more diverse sound environments the longer the hearing aids are worn. Finally, we find that remote logging via smartphones underestimates the daily hearing aid usage with a pooled median of 1.25 hours, suggesting an overall connectivity of 85%. The 1.25 hour difference is constant across days varying in total hearing aid on-time, and across participants varying in average daily hearing aid-on-time, and it does not depend on the identified patterns of daily hearing aid usage. In sum, remote data logging with hearing aids has high representativeness and face-validity, and can offer ecologically true information about individual usage patterns and the interaction between usage and everyday contexts.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrontiers in Digital Health
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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