Consumer choice for hearing aids and listening devices: newspaper advertisements for UK private sector provision
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Ross, L., Cathcart, C. & Lyon, P. (2011) Consumer choice for hearing aids and listening devices: newspaper advertisements for UK private sector provision, International Journal of Consumer Studies, vol. 35, , pp. 95-103,
In the UK there can be several ways to access health care and this is true of hearing aid provision. Although there may appear to be a well-defined distinction between the National Health Service (NHS) and independent dispenser hearing aid provision, there have been many examples of overlap between the two and recent government policy initiatives mean that distinctions have become less clear. This article outlines the changing relationship between the two sectors and the problems that potential consumers face accessing information on private sector options for amplification devices. A 1-year sample of newspaper advertisements was content-analysed for clarity of information provided. The analysis highlighted a range of provision, from well-known hearing aid dispensers to the greyer areas of listening device retailers and intermediary services. Some advertisements were found to have been reported to the Advertising Standards Authority. Sufficiently misleading adverts may also infringe consumer protection legislation. The article concludes there is the possibility of consumer confusion about products and their potential for amelioration.