Oscar M Cañete1, Amalie T Stubberup2, Lotte S E Petersen3, Raul H Sanchez-Lopez1, Jens Bo Nielsen1, Katja Lund4, Rodrigo Ordoñez4, Jesper H Schmidt2, Dan D Hougaard3, Rikke Schnack-Petersen2, Michael Gaihede3, Dorte Hammershøi4, Gérard Loquet3,4
Hearing Systems Section, Department of Health Technology, Technical University of Denmark, Lyngby, Denmark
2Department of Oto-rhino-laryngology, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark
3Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery and Audiology, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark
4Department of Electronic Systems, Signals and Information Processing, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark

Hearing aids are the most common treatment for hearing loss. Currently, hearing aid fitting depends heavily on the hearing care professional experience and patients’ feedback. In the BEAR project, the goal is to improve this process through developing new clinical methods for diagnostic and hearing aid fitting. The purpose of the present study was to clinically implement a new individualized approach to validate the BEAR strategy. Towards that, 79 adults (mean age of 69.1 years) with symmetric sensorineural hearing loss but no previous experience with hearing aids were recruited from two Danish Hospitals (Aalborg and Odense). The participants underwent four visits scheduled as follows: 1) hearing examination including basic hearing tests, 2) auditory profiling through speech perception, binaural processing, loudness perception and spectro-temporal resolution, 3) hearing aid fitting with individualized compensatory strategies, real ear measures and aided performance tests, 4) follow-up after two months with retest of the aided performance, real ear measures and hearing aid adjustments when needed. Between the last two visits participants were encouraged to complete an on-line tool for registering their daily life experiences. Results show that beyond the collection of several predictors, challenges have arisen when applying such methods in a clinical environment. Technical difficulties for example appeared due to specific IT systems deployed in each hospital. Training was necessary to run the tests and video tutorial and on-site instructions were provided. As a result no missing data were observed for profiling and aided measures while for the real ear measurements, there was a significant inter-examiner variability. This translated into problems to reach the target while fitting hearing aids with the BEAR strategy. However, as a whole, the clinical implementation of the BEAR is feasible and factors such as personal training and technical assistance must be in place to guarantee a smooth running.

Acknowledgments: This work was supported by Innovation Fund Denmark Grand Solutions 5164-00011B (BEAR project).