Reactions and Responses to the Diagnosis of a Progressive Hearing Loss in Adults
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMasters of Audiology
Being given the diagnosis of a disability generally affects an individual's emotional state, however, this has not previously been investigated with respect to audiology and the diagnosis of hearing loss. The first aim of this study was to describe some of the common initial reactions to the diagnosis of hearing loss (HL). An awareness of these emotional reactions will aid audiologists in counselling their patients. Counselling occurs at the time of the diagnosis and throughout the aural rehabilitation process. However, counselling tuition is currently not provided for audiology students at New Zealand universities and there are few professional development courses for practicing audiologists. The second aim of this study was to evaluate current audiological counselling services and ascertain the impact on patients' decisions to get hearing aids (HAs). To accomplish these aims, 27 adults who had been newly-diagnosed with a HL completed an initial reaction questionnaire, partook in an interview which followed up on the questionnaire, and subsequently completed a second questionnaire at least three weeks later. There were two versions of the second questionnaire, depending on whether they had chosen to have HA(s) fitted. The results found that the common emotions reported were a sense of loss, sadness and resignation, as well as relief. Furthermore, an individual's level of optimism tended to decrease in response to the hearing test result. The ratings of the audiological counselling services were positive and seemed not to significantly influence the individual with respect to their decision to purchase HAs. The two areas of audiological counselling which could be improved related to how the audiologist explained the HL, particularly in relation to the individual's life, and also the provision of information to patients prior to the fitting of the HA. In addition to the data that was collected in relation to these aims, information was collected with respect to patients' perceptions of their HL prior to the hearing test, their interpretation of the hearing test results, and also how the patient's significant other responded to the diagnosis. The information from this study will be useful for equipping audiologists, both new graduates and those with more experience, to provide optimal audiological care for their patients.