Sabina S. Houmoeller1,2, Anne Wolff3, Li-Tang Tsai1, Sreeram K. Narayanan5, Dan D. Hougaard3,4, Michael Gaihede3,4, Tobias Neher1, Christian Godballe1,2, Jesper H. Schmidt1,2
1Research Unit for ORL – Head & Neck Surgery and Audiology, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark; University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark
2OPEN, Odense Patient data Explorative Network, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark
3Department of Otolaryngology, Head & Neck Surgery and Audiology, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark
4Department of Clinical Medicine, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark
5Department of Electronic Systems, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark

Independent research supporting the choice of hearing aid technology level is lacking. Thus, the main purpose of this study was to explore reported outcomes for older adults with presbycusis using premium-feature and basic-feature hearing aids. Secondly, we investigated if differences in gain prescription measured with real-ear measurements explain differences in self-reported outcomes. The study was designed as a randomized controlled trial in which 190 first-time hearing aid users (≥ 60 years) with symmetric bilateral presbycusis were allocated to either a premium-feature or basic-feature hearing aid. The randomization was stratified on age, sex, and word recognition score. The outcomes were designed to assess their perceived hearing abilities and the effectiveness of hearing aids. Two types of self-reported questionnaires were used: the International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids (IOI-HA) and the short form of the Speech, Spatial, and Qualities of Hearing Scale (SSQ-12) questionnaire. In addition, insertion gain at first-fit were measured for all fitted hearing aids. Premium-feature hearing aid users reported 0.7 (95%CI: 0.2;1.1) scale points higher overall SSQ-12 score per item compared to basicfeature hearing aid users. Differences in the prescribed gain at 1 and 2 kHz were observed between premium and basic hearing aids within each company but did not explain the differences in reported outcomes. No statistically significant difference in reported hearing aid effectiveness between the two levels of technology was found. Overall, this study found evidence that premium-feature devices yielded better self-reported outcomes than basicfeature devices.

Acknowledgements: This research was funded by Innovation Fund Denmark Grand Solutions 5164-00011B (‘BEAR project’), GN Hearing, Oticon and WS Audiology. The collaboration with other partners (Aalborg University, Force as well as the university hospitals in Odense, Copenhagen and Aalborg) is sincerely acknowledged.