A common dilemma/challenge faced by hearing care professionals is how best to describe hearing results to clients.
Frequently, clinicians have relied on the audiogram and speech banana to educate and counsel clients about their hearing loss. Despite its common use as a counselling tool, the effectiveness of the audiogram for this purpose has not been widely researched. The information that is available indicates that clients find the audiogram difficult to understand. In a recent survey conducted by the Ida Institute, participants on average rated their ability to understand the audiogram as a 6 out of 10 and their ability to relay this information to family and friends only 5 out of 10.
In response to these findings, the Ida Institute has created the My Hearing Explained tool. My Hearing Explained is a conversation guide to assist clinicians explain results in a more client centric manner. The tool translates the more complex, technical wording often used to explain hearing results into everyday language, and uses familiar icons that are easier for the client to understand and relate to. Results are explained using three basic terms:
- Volume – ability to hear sound.
- Clarity - ability to distinguish sounds and understand speech.
- Brain energy – the amount of energy remaining after listening for an extended period.
What the client can and can’t hear are detailed on the form, as well as the communication situations that are important to them. Technology and communication strategies that are discussed during the appointment can also be included on the form.
Designed to fit on a single A4 page, My Hearing Explained provides a nice summary of all the information covered during the initial appointment. For many clients, finding out they have a hearing loss is upsetting and stressful. By providing results in a written format, clinicians can ensure that the information discussed during the appointment is not misunderstood or forgotten once a client leaves the clinic and that the client has something to take home to show and discuss with family and friends.
The audiogram will always serve an important part of audiological practice as a way of recording results and determining appropriate rehabilitation options. However, by using tools such as My Hearing Explained, resulting discussions can be delivered in a manner that is more appropriate to the needs of clients.
A copy of My Hearing Explained can be obtained from the Ida Institute’s website.