PURPOSE : Hearing loss causes emotional distress and can contribute to the development of psychological difficulties, yet emotional and psychological issues are not addressed within current audiology services. The purpose of this study was to use focus groups with consumer and community representatives to explore how we might improve the provision of support for clients experiencing emotional and psychological issues in relation to their hearing loss.
PARTICIPANTS : Adults with hearing loss (n = 19) and their significant others (n = 9), as well as 10 hearing health care professionals (n = 4 hearing health care clinicians, n = 4 reception staff, and n = 2 clinical managers), participated in consumer and community engagement focus groups.
METHOD : Consumer and community representatives were tasked with (a) identifying the stakeholders involved in supporting adults experiencing emotional or psychological difficulties on account of their hearing loss, (b) describing the behaviors undertaken by each stakeholder group, and (c) selecting target behavior(s) that could optimally form the basis of an intervention program to improve the quality and frequency of support provided to people experiencing emotional and psychological problems in the audiology setting.
RESULTS : Participants identified 12 stakeholder groups involved in supporting adults with hearing loss experiencing emotional and psychological problems. The three behaviors voted by participants to be the most promising for a behavioral intervention included the clinician (a) asking about, (b) providing information on, and (c) delivering therapeutic intervention for emotional and psychological well-being within audiological service provision.
CONCLUSION : Consumer and community stakeholder representatives indicate a general desire for hearing health care clinicians to deliver support for the emotional and psychological issues that arise relating to hearing loss.