A new analysis suggests that around one-fifth of individuals who have been issued with hearing aids do not use them.
Researchers at the University of Manchester analysed data from the annual National Survey for Wales. Data on hearing aids is available annually from 10,000 to 16,000 individuals who complete the national survey. The respondents are asked questions pertaining to self-perceived difficulties in hearing, adoption and use of hearing aids and difficulties experienced with hearing while using hearing aids.
The findings published in the International Journal of Audiology showed that nearly 20 per cent of adults with hearing aids do not use them at all, 30 per cent of individuals use them some of the time and the rest use them most of the time. However, there has been a gradual reduction in the proportion of individuals who never use their hearing aids during the past 15 years. A corresponding increase in the proportion of individuals who use their hearing aids most of the time has also been observed.
About one in six individuals in the UK experience hearing loss and NHS is the biggest buyer of hearing aids in the world. Although the study was conducted in Wales, the authors state the situation is not likely to be much different in the rest of the UK.
Professor Harvey Dillon, the lead author of the study, states: "Although under-use or non-use of treatments by some patients is by no means unique to hearing aids, achieving uniformly high use of hearing aids by those who need them would provide a major benefit to society." He emphasises the need for better follow-up and monitoring of patients after a hearing aid been prescribed and provided by the NHS.