Identifying the needs of elderly, hearing-impaired persons: the importance and utility of hearing aid attributes

Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2002 Nov;259(10):531-4. doi: 10.1007/s00405-002-0495-5. Epub 2002 Jul 9.


Older patients represent the majority of hearing-aid users. The needs of elderly, hearing-impaired subjects are not entirely identified. The present study aims to determine the importance of fundamental hearing-aid attributes and to elicit the utility of associated hypothetical hearing aids for older patients. This was achieved using a questionnaire-based conjoint analysis--a decompositional approach to preference measurement offering a realistic study design. A random sample of 200 experienced hearing-aid users participated in the study. Though three out of the six examined attributes revealed age-related dependencies, the only significant effect was found for the attribute "handling", which was considerably more important for older than younger hearing-aid users. A trend of decreasing importance of speech intelligibility in noise and increasing significance of speech in quiet was observed for subjects older than 70 years. In general, the utility of various hypothetical hearing aids was similar for older and younger subjects. Apart from the attribute "handling", older and younger subjects have comparable needs regarding hearing-aid features. On the basis of the examined attributes, there is no requirement for hearing aids designed specifically for elderly hearing-aid users, provided that ergonomic features are considered and the benefits of modern technology are made fully available for older patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Counseling
  • Health Services Needs and Demand*
  • Hearing Aids*
  • Hearing Disorders / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Noise / adverse effects
  • Persons With Hearing Impairments*
  • Speech Perception / physiology