Facts on Hearing Loss and Amplification Use, a 5-Country Survey

Robert Traynor
May 8, 2012

While researching this week’s blog for Hearing International I discovered a recent survey by Sonova.  Although it appears that these results were released last October at Hear the World.com, a Phonak website, the survey deserves some discussion here as it has some interesting data of possible international significance.

First the study surveyed 4,335 people in 5 countries: the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Switzerland, and the United States, with about equal representation form each country.  This is a major comprehensive multicountry survey and reflects some views that could have been predicted but others that might be a surprise.  Some of the interesting international statistical findings presented in the study are as follows:


  • 68% of the  respondents wear their hearing aids everyday or almost every day.
  • 50% of those with hearing loss but without hearing aids had not seen their physician.
  • 49% felt that they should have started using amplification earlier.
  • 56% said that their hearing aids were worth the price of their purchase.
  • 81.5% wear their hearing instruments openly and feel that it is nothing to be ashamed of.
  • 76.5% felt that other people had a positive reaction to their hearing aids.
  • 67.6% cannot imagine being without their hearing aids now that they have them.
  • 11.1% felt that they wanted to avoid the negative reactions of other people.
  • 36% said that their love life has improved since they began using their hearing aids.
  • 76% said that they enjoyed shared activities more since they began using hearing aids.
  • 58% felt that their relatives have a better life since they have been wearing hearing aids.
  • 52% state that they find it easier to make new acquaintances, the same as non-hearing impaired.
  • 81% of spouses and partners say that they are glad their partner wears hearing aids.
  • 19.1% of the population felt that hearing aids were a hindrance when they want to get to  know someone.
  • 86% of the group felt that their friends accepted them as they are.
  • 70% said that wearing hearing aids during sporting activities was no problem at all.
  • 37% felt that they participated in sports more since they have begun using hearing aids.
  • 84% said that thanks to the hearing aids they can travel anywhere they want.
  • 69% indicated that the  use of a hearing aid has had a positive effect on their general state of health.

In days gone by we would have dreamed of these data, especially in 5 separate countries, with different values, and cultures.  Of course, this study must be read with some skepticism, because the hearing instrument manufacturer that conducted the survey is naturally interested in presenting amplification and its products in a positive light.  But even allowing for this bias, the study suggests that amplification has definitely come a long way in the past few years, probably due to the fabulous instruments that are now being offered by most manufacturers, the software used to adjust them, and the training/expertise of those that fit, adjust, and service the instruments.

Additionally,  audiologic expertise over the past 10-15 years has exploded, and developing countries that are offering audiological services to the hearing impaired in their respective countries have come a long way in a very short period of time.  As a team, manufacturers, distributors, dispensers, audiologists, researchers and especially the development of educational program abroad have taken a product that most people did not want, to one that offers significant benefit and adds value to the lives of not only users wordwide, but those that are relatives and friends.

In Memoriam, Dr. Robert Sandlin

To those of us who have been around the world, there was one, among others, who had been there before us, Dr. Robert Sandlin. And he was kind enough to teach us what he had learned. The audiology world lost a true giant on May 3, 2012. At Hearing International we know that he was a popular international speaker and are sure that many of our readers are interested in his life and career.  For a tribute to Dr. Sandlin’s life and work, visit Wayne’s World, by Dr. Wayne Staab and David Kirkwood has posted an article at Hearing News Watch this week.

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