Background: Although hearing aids can improve hearing and communication, problems that arise following the acquisition of hearing aids can result in their disuse. This study aimed to gather perspectives of hearing aid owners and hearing health care clinicians about how hearing aid owners respond to problems that arise following hearing aid fitting, and then use these perspectives to generate a conceptual framework to better understand these responses.
Methods: Seventeen hearing aid owners and 21 hearing health care clinicians generated, sorted, and rated statements regarding how hearing aid owners respond to problems associated with hearing aid use. Concept mapping was used to identify key themes and to develop a conceptual framework.
Results: Participants identified four concepts regarding how hearing aid owners respond to problems associated with hearing aids: (1) Seeking External Help; (2) Problem Solving; (3) Putting Up with Problems; and (4) Negative Emotional Response. Participants described behaviors of the clinician and significant others that influenced their decision to seek help for hearing aid problems. Participants recognized that these behaviors could either have a helpful or unhelpful impact.
Conclusions: Despite the ongoing support offered to clients after they acquire hearing aids, they are hesitant to seek help from their clinician and instead engage in a myriad of helpful and unhelpful behaviors in response to problems that arise with their hearing aid. Previous positive or negative experiences with the clinic, clinician, or significant other influenced these actions, highlighting the influential role of these individuals' in the success of the rehabilitation program. The data generated from this study suggests that clinicians could improve hearing aid problem resolution by providing technical and emotional support, including to significant others, and promoting client empowerment and self-management.