The Effects of Service-Delivery Model and Purchase Price on Hearing-Aid Outcomes in Older Adults: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial

Larry E. Humes, Sara E. Rogers, Tera M. Quigley, Anna K. Main, Dana L. Kinney, Christine Herring
  • American Journal of Audiology, March 2017, American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
  • DOI: 10.1044/2017_aja-16-0111

What is it about?

This clinical trial demonstrates convincingly that hearing aids provide substantial benefits to older adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss; the most common pattern of hearing loss among older adults. Further, this study found that comparable benefits were obtained from hearing aids whether the devices were selected and fitted by an audiologist or were selected and fitted by the patient.

Why is it important?

There are many efforts underway to improve the accessibility and affordability of hearing aids for adults with mild-to-moderate hearing loss. One option under study is known as "over-the-counter" (OTC) delivery of hearing aids in which the consumer selects and fits the devices. This study demonstrated that, at least with the particular version of OTC delivery used here, it is possible to get outcomes from older adults wearing hearing aids that show substantial benefit. Another important finding was that the purchase price paid by the patient ($600 or $3600) for the hearing aids did not impact the outcome measures.


Larry E Humes
Indiana University Bloomington

This study represents the first ever double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial of hearing aid benefits in older adults. It is a STARTING point, not the FINAL answer. The gold standard for clinical evidence is a meta-analysis of several such clinical trials. This study represents an important INITIAL step toward meeting that high standard for clinical evidence.

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The following have contributed to this page: Larry E Humes, Sara Rogers, Dana Kinney, and Dr. Tera M Quigley