OBJECTIVE : To explore areas of functioning, disability, and environmental factors of adults with hearing loss (HL) by using the ICF classification as a tool to determine and document each element.
DESIGN : A qualitative study applying mainly focus-group methodology was applied.
STUDY SAMPLE : Thirty-six Dutch and South African adults (≥ 18 years of age) with HL (20-95 dB HL) who used oral communication as first communication. Summative content analysis was performed on the transcripts by linkage to appropriate ICF categories.
RESULTS : 143 ICF categories were identified, most of which belonged to the Activities & Participation (d) component, closely followed by the Environmental factors component. Participants specifically mentioned categories related to oral communication and interaction. Assistive technology (such as hearing aids), noise, and support by and attitudes of others in the environment of the participants were considered highly influential for functioning and disability.
CONCLUSIONS : The present study illustrates the complex and encompassing nature of aspects involved in functioning and disability of adults with HL. Findings highlight the necessity of using a multidimensional tool, such as the ICF, to map functioning and disability with hearing loss, allowing consideration and evaluation of aspects that are both internal and external.