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Self-Fitting Hearing Aids: Status Quo and Future Predictions

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Review

Self-Fitting Hearing Aids: Status Quo and Future Predictions

Gitte Keidser et al. Trends Hear.

Abstract

A self-contained, self-fitting hearing aid (SFHA) is a device that enables the user to perform both threshold measurements leading to a prescribed hearing aid setting and fine-tuning, without the need for audiological support or access to other equipment. The SFHA has been proposed as a potential solution to address unmet hearing health care in developing countries and remote locations in the developed world and is considered a means to lower cost and increase uptake of hearing aids in developed countries. This article reviews the status of the SFHA and the evidence for its feasibility and challenges and predicts where it is heading. Devices that can be considered partly or fully self-fitting without audiological support were identified in the direct-to-consumer market. None of these devices are considered self-contained as they require access to other hardware such as a proprietary interface, computer, smartphone, or tablet for manipulation. While there is evidence that self-administered fitting processes can provide valid and reliable results, their success relies on user-friendly device designs and interfaces and easy-to-interpret instructions. Until these issues have been sufficiently addressed, optional assistance with the self-fitting process and on-going use of SFHAs is recommended. Affordability and a sustainable delivery system remain additional challenges for the SFHA in developing countries. Future predictions include a growth in self-fitting products, with most future SFHAs consisting of earpieces that connect wirelessly with a smartphone and providers offering assistance through a telehealth infrastructure, and the integration of SFHAs into the traditional hearing health-care model.

Keywords: amplification; hearing aid; hearing apps; hearing health care; self-fitting; teleaudiology.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
An overview of the processes associated with fitting a hearing aid, and how each process is achieved in devices classified as “user-programmable” and “self-fitting.” The processes can be managed either from an Software application (“assisted” devices) or via on-board buttons (“self-contained” devices). Currently, all commercial products are assisted devices.
Figure 2.
Figure 2.
Overview of the steps managed by the user when self-fitting a hearing aid, and the hearing aid and person-directed factors that should increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

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