The Importance of Hearing Loss Pre-assessment

December 6, 2010


Nov HR cover.jpgHearing health professionals and hearing aid manufacturers have been using the common-sense "signs of hearing loss" in their public relations and advertising probably since the beginning of the hearing health industry as a method of educating people to seek treatment for their hearing loss with hearing aids.

This continues to be one of the most critical on-going education activities we can do to help people with untreated hearing loss for the following key reasons:

  • 6 of 10 new hearing aid users purchased their very first hearing aid because they realized their hearing loss was getting worse. (Source: MarkeTrak VIII)
  • 50% of people who admit they have a hearing loss but do not use hearing aids report they chose not to adopt hearing aids because they have never had their hearing checked. (Source: MarkeTrak VII)
  • Offering people FREE hearing tests may be effective in bringing in some people into hearing health professional offices, but for the vast majority of people with untreated hearing loss sitting on the fence, they lack insufficient information to make any step toward entering a hearing health professional's office.
  • It is our belief that hearing loss problem recognition is a critical precursor to hearing loss problem resolution.
To this end utilizing both objective and subjective information across four databases involving nearly 11,000 subjects, Sergei Kochkin, Ph.D. and Ruth Bentler, Ph.D. have shown in the November 2010 Hearing Review that the BHI Quick Hearing Check has high validity, reliability and utility; it is significantly related to nearly all key quality of life issues; and it demonstrates that standard audiological definitions of hearing loss based on dB loss better ear, may in fact need to be re-thought, since consumers tend to rate their subjective hearing loss much higher than what we state in our text books. The research demonstrates this tool can be used for effectively providing consumers with more information about their hearing loss and moving those with hearing loss closer to seeking a hearing solution.

The availability of this instrument represents a major opportunity for the hearing health industry to strategically attack one of the key barriers to hearing aid adoption; consumer's insufficient information about their hearing loss. There are currently two easy-to-use versions of this test—and both can be used for free and without permission from BHI (www.betterhearing.org). One is a paper and-pencil form in which the test-taker simply circles his/her responses and then uses the instructions on the back of the sheet to obtain a hearing score and recommendation for taking action.  HHP may print this form themselves or purchase them from the BHI in tablet form.

A simpler “no brainer” version that automatically scores the test and presents the results with the click of a button can be found online at www.hearingcheck.org (also a BHI Web site). It’s our hope that hearing care professionals and the hearing industry will instantly see the huge opportunity this test affords us and use it in all hearing-related promotions. Here are some ideas for promoting hearing health solutions using this instrument:

     Consider a full-page newspaper ads of the test with local HHP contact information embedded in the ad - we call this ongoing campaign The Across America Hearing Loss Check Challenge.
     Placing your name and contact information on the form and distributing copies to other health care professionals (dentists, GPs, chiropractors, etc), senior centers, and at health fairs could yield great referrals with very little effort.
     Every Web site in our industry (hearing health professionals and hearing aid manufacturers) should consider offering either a PDF download of this test and/or a link to www.hearingcheck.org. The BHI Hearing Check is a “fun” self-identification tool that consumers can use—without embarrassment or stress—to assess their hearing status and start their journey to better hearing.

In the next couple of months we will be redesigning the BHI Quick Hearing Check (paper-and-pencil and online hearing check) to incorporate the new information emanating from the publication. The online version will be more dynamic, user friendly resulting in a printable personalized pre-assessment of the individual's hearing loss.

Acknowledgements

Many thanks to all the audiologists and hearing instrument specialists that contributed to the huge success of the BHI Quick Hearing Check Validation Study (Hearing Review November 2010):  Al Davis, Alexo Whitesell, Alicia Torres, Allison Baranowski, Amanda Smith,  Amy M. Vargo-kite, Andrea Gerlach, Angela McLean,  Ann DePaolo, C. Goulet, Caleb Donley,  Charlene Mantz, Cindy Gregory, Cindy L. Spear, Cynthia Schaffer ,  D. Carothers, David Berkey,  Francesca Devito, Gabrielle Sadowsky, Gerard Woodin , Haley Owen,  Jamie Daugherty, Jody Cole,  Judith Albrecht, Juliette Sterkens,  Karen Knight, Kate Kribbs, Kathleen D. Vivaldi,  Kelly Ferry,  Kelly R. Green.  K. Williams, Larry Anton ,  Les Patterson, Long Island Audiology,  Lydia Gladwin, M. Van Drie,  Mary C. Younginer, Michael Valente, Mid America Hearing Center , Mike Guthrie, Nadine Esquenazi, Nathan Rhodes, Patricia Olopai,  Randall D. Smith, Rex Donley, Robert Dusa , Robert Sweetow, Robin Carson, Sandra Schick,  Sean J. Borland,  Seth Donley, Shannon Garlitz, Slade Simmons,  Stephanie Salcido, Sue Wilson, Trey Horn, Troy Adrian; with special thanks to Cindy Beyer of HearUSA , Ray Jones of Jones Audiology, Sue Clutterbuck in Australia and Juliette Sterkens.