Objective: If the benefits of newborn screening and early intervention are to be fully realised, there is a need to understand the challenges of hearing aid management in infants. The aim was to investigate longitudinal changes in hearing aid use and hearing aid management challenges in very young infants.
Design: Eighty-one primarily female (99%) caregivers of infant hearing aid users completed a questionnaire about hearing aid management experiences, first when their infants were 3-7 months old, (1-6 months after hearing aid fitting) and again at 7-21 months of age. Hearing aid datalogging was compared to caregiver reports of daily use for 66 infants.
Results: The main caregiver hearing aid management challenges were performing listening checks and troubleshooting. These challenges reduced over the approximately 5-month time period but remained a problem with around a quarter of respondents still not confident or not sure about troubleshooting, and around a third not performing a daily listening check. Mean daily hearing aid use, obtained from datalogging, declined significantly over time from 6.6 to 5.3 hours. Further analysis revealed reduced hearing aid use was primarily amongst infants with profound losses (n=11). Caregivers overestimated daily hours of use at both time points. Caregivers reported difficulty with the infants pulling out their hearing aids, especially at the later time point.
Conclusions: The findings from this relatively large sample of caregivers of young infants, assessed at 2 time points, revealed significant challenges in hearing aid management, including highly variable daily hearing aid use. Interventions that use behaviour change techniques may be needed to ensure intentions are consistently turned into successful actions, if the benefits of newborn hearing screening and early intervention are to be fully realised.