Effects of bilateral versus unilateral hearing aid fitting on abilities measured by the Speech, Spatial, and Qualities of Hearing Scale (SSQ)

Int J Audiol. 2006 Mar;45(3):172-81. doi: 10.1080/14992020500376933.


The Speech, Spatial and Qualities of Hearing Scale (Gatehouse & Noble, 2004) was applied to three independent clinical groups: 144 people prior to being fitted with amplification; 118 people with six months experience with unilateral amplification; and 42 people with six months experience with bilateral amplification. For traditional speech hearing contexts (one-on-one, in groups, in quiet, in noise) there was benefit with one aid, and no further benefit with two. By contrast, hearing speech in demanding contexts (divided or rapidly switching attention) showed benefit with one aid and further benefit with two. In the spatial domain, directional hearing showed some benefit with one hearing aid, and particular further benefit in distance and movement discrimination from fitting with two. There was some benefit from unilateral fitting for elements of the qualities domains (clarity, naturalness, recognisability, segregation of sounds), with no consistent sign of further benefit from two. Bilateral fitting added benefit with respect to listening effort. Two hearing aids offer advantage in demanding and dynamic contexts; these contexts are argued as significant in the maintenance of social competence and emotional wellbeing. The present results go toward establishing the real-world advantages of bilateral hearing aid fitting and suggest that previous, inconclusive clinical findings reflect inquiry limited to more traditional areas of hearing function.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Auditory Threshold
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Hearing Aids*
  • Hearing Loss, Bilateral / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Prosthesis Fitting / methods
  • Quality of Life
  • Random Allocation
  • Sound Localization
  • Spatial Behavior*
  • Speech Perception*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome