Applying the COM-B Model to Assess the Usability of Smartphone-Connected Listening Devices in Adults with Hearing Loss
12 November 2018
27 December 2018
26 May 2020 (online)
Unlike conventional hearing aids, smartphone-connected listening devices may require limited or no input from a trained audiologist in terms of device programming and adjustment. However, there is a lack of peer-reviewed evidence assessing the real-world perspectives of people living with hearing loss toward such technological innovations.
This study assessed the everyday experiences of adults living with hearing loss toward a range of smartphone-connected listening devices using the Capability, Opportunity, Motivation, Behaviour (COM-B) model as a theoretical framework.
A qualitative study where participants trialed one of the following smartphone-connected listening devices for two weeks in their everyday lives: made-for-smartphone hearing aid, personal sound amplification product, and smartphone “hearing aid” app with wired earphones or wireless hearable. Individual semistructured interviews were conducted.
Twenty adults (13 male and 7 female; mean age = 62.25 years, SD = 11.59) with mild-to-moderate hearing loss (mean better ear pure-tone average = 30.49 dB HL, SD = 17.51) were recruited using a convenience sampling strategy. All participants owned conventional hearing aids.
The data were analyzed using an established deductive thematic analysis procedure within the context of the COM-B model. The model stipulates that for individuals to engage in a particular behavior (B), they must have sufficient capability (C), opportunity (O), and motivation (M).
Capability: One of the key advantages facilitating use and adherence of smartphone-connected listening devices was the ability for participants to make fine-tune adjustments in any listening situation. Opportunity: Participants commented that these devices could address issues surrounding stigma as smartphones are ubiquitous in everyday life. Motivation: Participants consistently reported that the ability to make adjustments via a smartphone provided them with a greater sense of autonomy and empowerment. As a result, they felt more in control of their hearing loss.
This study lays the foundation for further high-quality research to explore whether smartphone-connected technologies have the potential to yield optimum benefits for people living with hearing loss.
Key WordsCOM-B model - hearing aids - hearing loss - smartphone-connected listening devices - Theoretical Domains Framework
This paper presents independent research funded by the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and carried out at the NIHR Nottingham Clinical Research Facilities. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care.
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