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Qualitative Evaluation of Hearing Link IRP for adults

Adult acquired hearing loss remains a leading cause of disease burden and is one of the leading causes of years lost due to disease. In the UK the prevalence of adult onset hearing loss remains high and has a detrimental impact on daily living and quality of life. Despite the above there continues to remain a low uptake of available interventions. The main focus of hearing rehabilitation for older adults over the years has been towards the fitting and use of hearing technologies.
 
A number of additional interventions are available for people with hearing loss including communication programs, auditory rehabilitation, counselling and the use of assistive listening devices. One such intervention is the Intensive Rehabilitation Programme (IRP), a well-established course offered by Hearing Link for over forty years to adults with a severe to profound hearing loss. Recently, Hearing Link commissioned a qualitative evaluation of their IRP as part of a larger quantitative evaluation study. As the purpose of this study was to explore participants, both deafened adults and their significant others, in depth perspectives of their experiences of attending the IRP, the qualitative approach was well suited for this.
 
Six participants were interviewed before the course started and on the final afternoon. The purpose of the pre course interviews was to find out the reasons the delegates had decided to come on the course, how they found out about the IRP and to discuss with them their hopes and expectations for the week ahead. From these pre course interviews, three themes were identified: ‘Living with hearing loss’, ‘Need for information and coping strategies’ and ‘Pre-course emotions’.
 
The aim of the post course interviews was to find out whether the course had met their pre course expectations, to find out what practical changes they planned to make following the programme and to ask them if there were things they did not like so much, or would like to have changed. The post course interviews identified four main themes: ‘Sense of self efficacy’, ‘Acquiring useful information’, ‘Value of significant other attending’ and ‘Course feedback’.
 
Three focus groups (one per location) were held, and altogether, nine hearing partners took part. The aim of the focus groups was to gain some insights into the impact that hearing loss has had on their lives, to find out whether the course had met their expectations and what changes occurred as a result. The focus groups identified four main themes: ‘Living with a person with hearing loss’, ‘Shift in attitude’, ‘Importance of attending programme’, ‘Course feedback’.
 
In summary, this research offers a much deeper insight into the impact of attending the IRP for deafened adults and their hearing partners. The study supports previous evidence on the effectiveness of the IRP and indicates the program has an important place in the rehabilitation of deafened adults. More awareness of the course should be aimed towards hearing professionals, deafened adults and their families and the IRP should be considered as an option when selecting rehabilitation interventions.
 
You can download the full report here: Qualitative Evaluation of IRP Report for Hearing Link.pdf

For further information on this study please contact:

Dr Imran Mulla: imran@earfoundation.org.uk

or

Suzanne Harrigan: suzanne@earfoundation.org.uk