T.W.W.GO1, L.H.WONG1, L.X.QUEK1, Y.S.NG1, E.C.HO1
Tan Tock Seng Hospital1
Hearing aid (HA) is an effective rehabilitative medical device for hearing loss (HL). However, decision for patients to seek help and to commit to aural rehabilitation is often influenced by other subjective factors. This study aims to examine subjective factors and shared decision-making associated with HA uptake among adult and elderly patients and their caregivers in Singapore.
Prospective cross-sectional study. The 6 constructs of the health belief model (HBM) were used to develop questions examining perceived severity/susceptibility, barriers/benefits, self-efficacy, and cues to action. 158 hearing-impaired patients (mean age: 69) and 90 caregivers (mean age: 51) were recruited at a tertiary hospital’s ENT outpatient clinic between July to November 2020.
More caregivers (96%) agreed that HL affects communication than patients (82%). More caregivers (92%) noticed patient’s communication difficulties with others than patients themselves (48%). More caregivers (78%) agreed that HL may strain relationships with friends and family members compared to patients (57%). 83% of caregivers had experienced anger or frustration when conversing with untreated family members, with almost all had to adapt their communication with patients before seeking professional help. Despite that, only 51% of patients realized their difficulties communicating with family members before treatment. Majority of caregivers (65%) had observed reduced effort communicating with patients with HA, while 85% felt using HA was the right decision.
Patients may be less aware of their communication difficulties than their caregivers and may have increased caregiver dependency. Involving caregivers can enhance shared decision-making in aural rehabilitation.