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Music-loving hearing aid users urged to take part in research survey

January 9, 2017

A press release from University of Leeds:

 

A major research project led by the University of Leeds is seeking help from hearing aid users around the country.

Hearing Aids for Music is investigating the musical experiences of hearing aid users of all ages.

As part of this, the project – which is run in conjunction with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – is coordinating a large scale online survey and is keen to recruit as many participants as possible.

Those taking part need to have a confirmed hearing loss (whether mild, moderate, severe or profound), wear hearing aid(s) for at least an hour a day (but not a cochlear implant) and be from 18 to 90 years old. A British Sign Language (BSL) version of the information and survey are available.

The survey asks about participants’ musical experiences and preferences, their hearing and their hearing aids.

Project leader Dr Alinka Greasley, from the University’s School of Music, said there were an estimated 11 million people in the UK with a hearing loss – roughly one in six ­– and this figure is predicted to rise to 15.6 million by 2035.

She said: “The UK population listens to a lot of music. There were more than 25 billion audio streams and 122 million album purchases in 2015 alone. Music is used for enjoyment, to change moods, to bring back memories and as a key part of social occasions. Research has shown consistently that it plays a key role in people’s health and well-being.

“Given the growing prevalence of hearing loss, and the ubiquity of music, the project is currently exploring how hearing loss and the use of hearing aids affect music listening.

“Our findings to date suggest that some hearing aid users experience problems when listening to music, such as a reduction in tone quality, difficulties hearing words in songs, and challenges in live performance contexts. However, others experience no issues at all. We would like to hear from anyone who wears hearing aids and listens to music so that we can compare the experiences of people with different levels of hearing loss and types of hearing aids, and map differences across various genres of music and musical contexts.

Dr Greasley also asked family and friends of hearing aid users to spread the word.

“Our research findings will be used to develop advice channels for both hearing aid users and audiology practitioners to improve access to, and enjoyment of, music.” Dr Greasley said, adding: “so the more hearing aid users who complete the survey, the more tailored and useful this advice will be.”

The survey, which runs until the end of April, takes about 30 minutes to complete and participants will remain anonymous. Those who leave their contact details will be entered into a draw to win one of three £75 cash prizes.

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