J Am Acad Audiol 2017; 28(10): 920-931
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.16129
American Academy of Audiology. All rights reserved. (2017) American Academy of Audiology

Development and Pilot Evaluation of a Novel Theory-Based Intervention to Encourage Help-Seeking for Adult Hearing Loss

Gabrielle H. Saunders
Melissa T. Frederick
ShienPei C. Silverman
Claus Nielsen
Ariane Laplante-Lévesque
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
06 August 2020 (online)

Background: Health behavior theories can provide an understanding of hearing health behaviors and, more importantly, can be used to develop theoretically based strategies to change these health behaviors.

Purpose: To develop a theory-based brief intervention to increase help-seeking for adult hearing loss and to conduct a pilot study to evaluate its feasibility, effectiveness, and impact on hearing beliefs and behaviors.

Research Design: An intervention was designed that could be easily administered by a health-care provider who does not have expertise in audiology—such as a primary care physician, community nurse, or social worker. The intervention aims to alter perceived benefit, severity, cues to action, and self-efficacy for seeking help by providing experiential/affective messaging and simultaneously providing intrinsic motivation for the recipient to seek hearing help. To first determine whether this intervention changed beliefs and increased help-seeking behavior, this study was conducted in a hearing research laboratory setting.

Study Sample: A total of 101 adults aged 50–89 yr were recruited within 6 months of having attended an appointment at a primary care clinic at the VA Portland Health Care System. All were sent a letter inviting them to participate in a study if they had trouble with their hearing but had not had a scheduled hearing test or worn hearing aids in the prior 5 yr and also had functional oral and written English. Data from 87 individuals were available for analysis.

Intervention: The intervention is designed for use in any health-care setting in which a health-care provider can facilitate a conversation about hearing. On arrival at a health-care facility, recipients are provided with nine emotionally evocative color photographs to prompt reflection on ways in which hearing difficulties impact them. A discussion with a health-care provider (facilitator) follows, during which recipients may identify the negative impacts of their hearing loss. If the recipient identifies negative impacts, the facilitator suggests that he or she consider having a hearing test and provides a list of local hearing-health professionals.

Data Collection and Analysis: Participants completed baseline questionnaires assessing hearing beliefs and attitudes. They were then randomly assigned either to the group receiving the study intervention or to a control group. Six months after study enrollment, participants reported whether they had sought help for their hearing and completed a second set of questionnaires.

Results: Twelve of 41 individuals (29.3%) in the intervention group and 7 of 46 individuals (15.2%) in the control group sought help within the 6-month follow-up period. A χ2 test showed these numbers did not differ significantly; however, the odds ratio of having had a hearing test were 2.3 times greater for those who received the intervention than for those who did not.

Conclusions: Despite not reaching statistical significance, the odds ratio suggests that the theory-based brief intervention is worthy of additional examination. We intend to work with health-care providers to conduct a larger study to investigate whether the intervention has value in the real world.