Date of Degree

5-2018

Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Au.D.

Program

Audiology

Advisor

Carol A. Silverman

Subject Categories

Speech Pathology and Audiology

Keywords

hearing loss, communication partner, significant other, third party disability, hearing aids

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this investigation is to conduct a systematic review of the quality of life (QoL), social, and emotional aspects of third party disability experienced by communication partners of persons with hearing loss (PHL), including a comparison of communication partners of users of hearing aids, users of cochlear implants, and unaided persons with hearing loss.

Methods: A comprehensive search utilizing various peer-reviewed databases accessible through the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center Library was conducted to identify relevant studies evaluating quality of life, social, and emotional outcome measures of communication partners of persons with hearing loss (PHL). Inclusion criteria included studies that qualitatively or quantitatively measured outcomes of communication partners of PHLs. This included partners, spouses, children, and friends of individuals of hearing loss, and did not discriminate against amplification status of the person with hearing loss. Communication partners of users of hearing aids, users of cochlear implants, and unaided persons with hearing loss were therefore included.

Results: Fourteen articles met the inclusion criteria for this systematic review. The studies utilized a total of twenty-three different outcome measures, which were then categorized as a QoL, social, or emotional outcome measure. In addition, studies were separated according to amplification status of the person with hearing loss, with sections dedicated to communication partners of users of hearing aids, users of cochlear implants, and unaided persons with hearing loss.

Discussion: Analysis of the included studies revealed a theme of negative quality of life, social, and emotional effects of the PHL’s hearing loss on the communication partner, resulting in an increase in third party disability. Contrarily, a reduction in third party disability is observed following the PHL’s hearing aid fitting, cochlear implantation, or completion of group aural rehabilitation. Differing degrees of third party disability were found in husbands and wives of PHLs, with wives being more affected by their partner’s hearing loss than husbands. Furthermore, congruence of measures of hearing handicap differed dependent on the sexual orientation of the PHL and his/her significant other.

Conclusions: Communication partners of PHLs experience third party disability affecting one’s QoL, social life, and emotional wellbeing. The findings of this investigation should inform the delivery of family-centered care, and encourage clinicians to incorporate communication partners in the PHL’s hearing healthcare. Specifically, communication partners should be invited to participate in group aural rehabilitation programs to improve congruence. Audiologists must also utilize these findings in the counseling of PHLs to better understand the global effects of hearing loss beyond the PHL. Future research must explore the specific effects on third party disability dependent on the aided status of the PHL and the hearing status of the communication partner. Lastly, future studies should aim to corroborate the gender effect and sexual orientation effect observed in the included studies.

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