Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Vishakha Rawool

Second Advisor

Anne Williams

Third Advisor

Carolyn Higdon

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

Background: Hearing loss affects 48 million Americans and up to 86% of all adults with hearing loss may not wear hearing aids. Untreated hearing loss is associated with social withdrawal, depression, stress, loss of income, and dementia. Even so, people still tend not to buy or wear hearing aids for a variety of reasons. One recently suggested solution to this problem is low-cost, over the counter (OTC) hearing aids, nicknamed “hearables” This study evaluated the audibility, cost-acceptability and cosmetic appearance of one OTC, IQBuds BOOST.

Methods: Fourteen men and 12 women over 50 years with a hearing loss participated in the study. Word recognition testing was conducted by presenting words embedded with a phrase at 40 dBHL through the loudspeakers in four conditions. The participants completed a Visual Analogue Survey, which included listening and non-listening items, once regarding their aided experience and once regarding their everyday listening experience.

Analyses: Speech perception was scored using both the phoneme scoring and word scoring methods. Mixed ANOVAs were performed on the % correct phoneme scores and word scores. The t-test was performed on the average scores of the first 12 items of the Visual Analogue scale. Descriptive statistics were used to report data on the questions related to cost and acceptability of the hearable device.

Results: For both aided and unaided conditions the word and phoneme recognition scores in noise were significantly poorer than those in quiet. The hearable did not improve the word recognition in quiet or noisy backgrounds. Similarly, there were no significant differences in average listening VAS scores with and without the hearable. On a scale of 1 to 100, participants gave higher than 60 scores for questions regarding the comfort, fit and insertion of the hearable. However, the average scores related to willingness to use, cost, and cosmetic appearance were less than 50.

Conclusions: This study suggests that older participants with mild to moderate hearing loss may not benefit from the hearable used in the current study and the appearance of the device may have to be improved.

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