Does probe-tube verification of real-ear hearing aid amplification characteristics improve outcomes in adult hearing aid users? A protocol for a systematic review

Ibrahim Almufarrij, Kevin J. Munro, Harvey Dillon

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)
    13 Downloads (Pure)


    Introduction: Using a probe-tube microphone to measure and adjust the real-ear performance of the hearing aid to match the prescription target is recommended and widely used in clinical practice. Hearing aid fitting software can approximately match the amplification characteristics of the hearing aid to the prescription without real-ear measurements (REMs), but using REM improves the match to the prescribed target. What is unclear is if the improved match results in a better patient-reported outcome. The primary objective of this review is to determine whether the use of REM improves patient-reported outcomes in adult hearing aid users.

    Methods and analysis: The review’s methods are in accordance with Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses Protocols guidelines. MEDLINE, EMBASE, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science and CENTRAL via Cochrane Library will be searched to identify relevant studies. The review’s population of interest will include adults with any degree of sensorineural or mixed hearing loss who have been prescribed with acoustic hearing aids. The included studies should compare REM fitting to the initial fit provided by the manufacturer’s fitting software. Hearing-specific health-related quality of life is the primary outcome but secondary outcomes include self-reported listening ability, speech recognition scores, generic health-related quality of life, hours of use, number of required follow-up sessions and adverse events. Randomised and non-randomised controlled trials will be included. The risk of bias in the included studies will be evaluated using Down and Black’s checklist. The quality of the overall evidence will be assessed using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations tool.

    Ethics and dissemination: Ethical approval will not be sought because this systematic review will only retrieve and analyse data from published studies. Review results will be published in a peer-reviewed journal and presented at relevant scientific conferences.

    PROSPERO registration number: CRD42020166074.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere038113
    Pages (from-to)1-5
    Number of pages5
    JournalBMJ Open
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • audiology
    • neurotology
    • otolaryngology


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