Bennett, R., Swanepoel, D.W., Ratinaud, P., Bailey, A., Pennebaker, J.W., & Manchaiah, V.
International Journal of Audiology, In Press. https://doi.org/10.1080/14992027.2021.1931487
Publication year: 2021

Objective: To explore the publicized opinions of consumers actively participating in online hearing aid reviews.

Design: A retrospective design examining data generated from an online consumer review website (www.HearingTracker.com). Qualitative data (open text responses) were analyzed using the open source automated topic modeling software IRaMuTeQ (http://www.iramuteq.org/) to identify themes. Outputs were compared with quantitative data from the consumer reviews (short response questions exploring hearing aid performance and benefit, and some meta-data such as hearing aid brand and years of hearing aid ownership).

Study Sample: 1,378 online consumer hearing aid reviews.

Results: Six clusters within two domains were identified. The domain Device Acquisition included three clusters: Finding the right provider, device and price-point; Selecting a hearing aid to suit the hearing loss; and Attaining physical fit and device management skills. The domain Device Use included three clusters: Smartphone streaming to hearing aids; Hearing aid adjustment using smartphone; and Hearing in noise.

Conclusions: Although online hearing aid consumers indicate positive performance on multiple choice questions relating to hearing aid performance and benefit, their online reviews describe a number of barriers limiting their success. Hearing healthcare clinicians must employ a personalized approach to audiological rehabilitation to ensure individual clients’ needs are met.