Discovering the unmet needs of people with difficulties understanding speech in noise and a normal or near-normal audiogram

Kiri Mealings*, Ingrid Yeend, Joaquin T. Valderrama, Megan Gilliver, Jermy Pang, Jason Heeris, Pamela Jackson

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Purpose: A proportion of people with a normal audiogram or mild hearing loss (NA-MHL) experience greater-than-expected difficulty hearing speech in noise. This preliminary exploratory study employed a design thinking approach to better understand the clinical pathway and treatment options experienced by this population. Method: Exploratory survey data were analyzed from 233 people with NA-MHL who had consulted a clinician and 47 clinicians. Qualitative analysis was performed on interview data from 21 people with NA-MHL and seven clinicians. Results: Results revealed that noisy environments, such as restaurants, were where many people experienced listening difficulties. Most people with NA-MHL were not offered a treatment option at their audiology appointment, and their satisfaction with the appointment was diverse. Many clients reported frustration at being told that their hearing was “normal.” Data from clinicians showed that there is no standard test protocol for this population, and most felt that they did not have adequate training or resources to help NA-MHL clients. Conclusion: This study discusses the research needs regarding the experience of those with NA-MHL, their help-seeking behaviors, and treatment options. Understanding these needs is the first step to designing projects to improve the quality of life of this population.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)329-355
    Number of pages27
    JournalAmerican Journal of Audiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Sep 2020

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