Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Abrams, Harvey B.


Hearing aids, Quality of Life, Sensorineural hearing loss, Outcome Assessment (Health Care)


The aim of this study was to measure the effects of audiologic intervention on self-perceived quality of life in the elderly hearing-impaired population. The tested hypothesis was that hearing aid use would result in improved quality of life as measured by utilities. In this study, utilities were obtained using the U-Titer II, an interactive software program designed to measure an individual's health state preference or utility. This study also examined the issue of numeracy, which is described as an understanding of basic probability, and its effect with an individual's ability to accurately complete utilities.

Data from 54 individuals fit with hearing aids in this randomized, controlled, pre-test/post-test experimental design study were analyzed. The participants completed the U-Titer II, a test of numeracy and the International Outcome Inventory for hearing Aids (IOI-HA). Three utility approaches were used in this study: Time Trade-Off (TTO), Standard Gamble (SG) and Rating Scale (RS). With each of the utility approaches, disease-specific (e.g., deafness vs. perfect hearing) and generic (death vs. perfect health) anchors were incorporated.

Several research questions were posed to examine the sensitivity of utilities to hearing aid intervention. Question 1: Can the effects of hearing aid intervention be determined with a utility approach? Statistically significant differences between pre- and post-intervention utility scores were measured with disease-specific and generic anchors for only the TTO and RS approaches. These findings suggest that hearing aid intervention outcomes can be measured using either the TTO or RS utility approaches.

Question 2: Is numeracy ability a factor in the usefulness of a utility approach for assessing the effects of hearing aid intervention? Statistical analysis showed that mean utility scores changed very little as a function of numeracy ability. These findings suggest that numeracy ability does not appear to affect utility scores. Question 3: What, if any, are the relationships between hearing aid benefit as measured by a utility approach and hearing aid benefit as measured by the IOI-HA?

Spearman Rho correlations were conducted on the benefit data obtained from the two self-report measures (IOI-HA and utilities). The major findings from these analyses determined that the IOI-HA total scores were significantly correlated with utility outcomes as measured by TTO generic, TTO disease-specific, and RS disease-specific anchors. In general, correlations between the measures were higher with the disease-specific anchors than the generic anchors. Also, none of the correlations between any IOI-HA outcome domains and utility change scores with generic anchors obtained with the RS scale were significant.

For utilities measured with disease-specific anchors, significant correlations were found with two IOI-HA outcome domains (benefit and satisfaction) and utility change scores as measured by the TTO technique. When the RS technique was utilized, significant correlations were found for four of the seven outcome domains (benefit, satisfaction, participation and impact of others). Thus, if the IOI-HA is used as a measure against which to validate the utility approach as a measure of hearing aid outcomes, the measure with the most face validity is a RS method with disease-specific anchors. However, if one wished to compare hearing aid intervention to intervention in other areas of health care, these data support the use of a TTO approach.