Experiences of acquiring hearing loss: lessons for rehabilitation.
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DePlacido, C. (2016) Experiences of acquiring hearing loss: lessons for rehabilitation., no. 276.
Acquired hearing impairment affects one in six people in the United Kingdom. The process of becoming hearing impaired and seeking help is different for each individual and consequently very little is known about their personal experience of this journey. The aim of this thesis was to explore the essence of the experience of acquiring hearing impairment from the individual’s perspective, in order to better understand and meet the needs of clients seeking aural rehabilitation. Data was generated in the Phenomenological tradition using unstructured interviews and analysed using a constant comparison method drawn from Grounded Theory. Participants were recruited from the UK and the USA. Individual participant’s experience ranged from those who had not yet approached services, to those who had worn hearing aid/s for several years. Data is comprised of 24 recorded interviews, reflective journals, field notes and memos. Each interview, journal, field note and memo was coded and analysed to identify a core category. The results produced categories that identified stages the individual experiences when acquiring hearing impairment, and a core category, “Preserving the social identity” emerged. Most of the data was generated from interviews and focus groups but additionally a comprehensive audiological assessment was carried out with ten of the participants in order to compare their perception of their hearing before and after assessment. The assessment included taking a detailed medical and social history, performing otoscopy, pure tone audiometry, tympanometry, speech testing and the random gap detection test. This thesis adds to the body of knowledge about the personal experience of acquiring hearing impairment within the framework of Social Identity Theory. It proposes a theory of how individuals experience and adapt to changes in their social identity, and proposes that rehabilitation needs to be available at a much earlier stage than hearing aid fitting. It must also be multifaceted and multidisciplinary in order to meet the needs of the individual and their significant others at various stages in their journey. Finally it identifies an unmet need within Audiology provision and suggestions are made for service development and further areas of research.