The phone is used as a means of communication for business, pleasure and for safety reasons. Lack of success with phone communication by patients is linked to a self-reported reduction in quality of life and reduced patient success with amplification. In fact, failure to use a hearing instrument with the phone is reported as one of the main reasons why patients do not use their hearing aids in general.
At the 2013 AudiologyNOW! conference in Anaheim California, Charlotte Jespersen, MA, and Jenny Nesgaard, AuD, presented a study comparing speech reception threshold scores for different phone use options ranging from direct acoustic coupling to streamed wireless sound for hearing impaired individuals with moderate to severe hearing loss.
Why do patients struggle with phone communication? Absence of visual cues, as well as background noise and inappropriate use of the phone with hearing instruments, all lead to problems in communication success. A study was conducted using 20 test subjects with a median age of 73 years. Each test subject had moderate to severe hearing loss, max 15dB hearing loss at any frequency between 500 and 3000 Hz. Each test participant also had varied hearing instrument experience.
The test measured the improvements in Speech Reception Threshold (SRT) for seven different conditions:
- Quiet with telephone only
- Noise with telephone only
- Noise with Telecoil Phone
- Noise with Telecoil Phone with muted HI microphones
- Noise with asymmetrical phone handling
- Noise with Unite Phone Clip+ with muted HI microphones
- Noise with Unite Phone Clip+
Below are the SRT results for the test:
In general, the patient’s lifestyle and needs are of the utmost importance when deciding which solution is the best. Matching the patient to the optimal solution can result in the greatest level of satisfaction possible.