Purpose: Online reviews have been used by hearing aid owners to share their experiences and to provide suggestions to potential hearing aid buyers, although they have not been systematically examined. The study was aimed at examining the hearing aid consumer reviews using automated linguistic analysis, and how the linguistic variables relate to self-reported hearing aid benefit and satisfaction ratings.
Method: The study used a cross-sectional design. 1,378 consumer hearing aid reviews (i.e., text response to open-ended question), self-reported benefit and satisfaction ratings on hearing aids in a 5-point scale with meta-data (e.g., hearing aid brand, technology level) extracted from the HearingTracker website were analyzed using automated text analysis method known as the Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC).
Results: Self-reported hearing aid benefit and satisfaction ratings were high (i.e., mean rating of 4.04 in a 5-point scale). Examining the association between overall rating and the key linguistic variables point to two broad findings. First, the more people were personally, socially, and emotionally engaged with the hearing device experience, the higher they rated their hearing device(s). Second, a minimal occurrence of clinic-visit language dimensions points to factors that likely affect benefit and satisfaction ratings. For example, if people mention paying too much money (money) their overall ratings are generally lower. Conversely, if people write about their health or home, the ratings were higher. There was no significant difference in linguistic analysis across different hearing aid brands and technology levels.
Conclusions: Hearing aid consumers are generally satisfied with their hearing device(s), and their online reviews contain information about social/emotional dimensions as well as clinic-visit related aspects that have bearing towards hearing aid benefit and satisfaction ratings. These results suggest that the natural language used by consumers provide insights on their perceived benefit/satisfaction from their hearing device.