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Perspectives of FM/RM usage in Adults

Frequency modulation (FM) and remote microphone (RM) technology is a well recognized way to improve speech perception in adverse listening environments. FM systems are known to improve speech understanding in noisy situations (Lewis et al, 2004; Jerger et al, 1996) and its advantages in deaf children (King 2010), infants (Thibodeau, 2008) with cochlear implants (Davies et al, 2001; Schafer and Thibodeau, 2003; Thibodeau, 2006), in the educational settings (Ross, 1992; Anderson et al, 2005), autism spectrum disorders (Mulder, 2011) and pre-schoolers (Mulla, 2011; Mulla and McCracken 2014) are well established.

Further studies related to FM in adults have focussed on speech performance (Boothroyd, 2004), directional microphones (Lewis et al, 2004), other assistive devices in the elderly (Kricos, 2009), benefits of FM in different situations (Ross, 2004), use of FM in veterans (Dorton, 2009), self-report of FM benefit (Lewis 2005) and FM usage in places of worship (Sheehan 2007).

Few studies have focussed on adult perspectives; influence of age on FM usage (Chisolm, 2009), influence of counselling on FM outcomes Chisolm et al (20071), FM and wireless connectivity (Chisolm et al, 20072). And only one study by Chisolm et al (20073) has investigated the role of FM system in adults to some detail. They used communication performance subscales and Marktrak survey to compare the performance of individuals’ pre and post FM usage with hearing aids. They observed the role of counselling, benefit of various situations, overall satisfaction, negative feelings associated with device use, satisfaction with the product features and value. They reported quite a few positive real world outcomes for the users in the study. Thus few studies have looked at FM use in adults and even fewer have explored their experiences through interview. In addition, several practical aspects or challenges related to FM usage remain unexplored. These are important features since the extent and success of any device usage depends on such aspects.

There is a lack of robust qualitative research looking at the experiences of adults’ FM/RM use with hearing technologies in everyday life. The interview studies provide the opportunity to follow up in more detail, issues of interest or particular concern that arise spontaneously allowing for the richness of the individual experience to be included. This study explores the experiences of adult FM/RM users in UK and the issues concerning them. This is especially important considering the current financial climate as well as NHS reforms. Further, a number of other aspects, including awareness information and access, how FM/RM devices are perceived, along with their impact on quality of life and communication, which are scarce in the literature were explored.

The findings the research can provide information to audiologists and other professionals in public and private sector, educational services, as well as users and potentially have a wider implication for the intervention of hearing loss in adults.

This study was supported by Comfort Audio.

You can read and download the full report here: The Ear Foundation - FM-RM Technology - Adults.pdf

If you have any queries and/or would like more information on this study, please contact sarah@earfoundation.org.uk