Evaluation of interactive videos to enhance benefit for new hearing aid users - HEAR IT

Chief investigator

Dr Melanie Ferguson

Study team

Professor Heather Wharrad (University of Nottingham, Health and ELearning Media group)
Marian Brandreth (Nottingham Hearing BRU)
Dr Paul Leighton (University of Nottingham)
William Brassington (Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust)
Victoria Owen
Anne Darby (patient and public involvement representative)
Matthew Jones (University of Nottingham)


NIHR Research for Patient Benefit (RfPB) programme

Study period



Background and rationale

Hearing aids have the potential to transform the lives of those with permanent hearing loss, yet out of the two million people who have one, around 20 percent –  400,000 people –  do not wear their device. Hearing aid non-usage can result in continued difficulties in communication in everyday situations, which can lead to social isolation and withdrawal, and reduced overall quality of life.

As hearing aid follow-up appointments are not routinely offered to everyone in the UK, all the important information often needs to be given at the time of the hearing aid fitting. As such, interactive multimedia videos (or reusable learning objects, RLOs) offer advantages in that they can provide essential and supplementary information, be used at a time that suits the user, used as many times as the user wants and needs, and can be delivered remotely in the home environment.


This project developed a series of RLOs (total duration 1 hour) to explain many of the issues around using hearing aids. The aim of the study was to supplement advice from audiologists and see whether hearing aid users would get more benefit from their hearing aids when they watched the RLOs.

The content of the RLOs was based on principles of learning theory and were developed in collaboration with over 35 hearing aid users to ensure they engaged the targeted audience and provide optimal learning. Each self-contained RLO was structured with learning outcomes, multi-media (videos, photos, animations), and an interactive self-evaluation quiz, as well as powerful testimonials, anecdotes and humour. All RLOs were subtitled.


We completed a randomised controlled trial involving 203 first-time hearing aid users to assess how effective the RLOs were in helping people to get the most out of their hearing aids. In the study, the RLOs were delivered via DVD for TV and PC, and the Internet.

There were a total of seven RLOs (plus an introduction) which covered the following topics:


Hearing aid users who got the videos at the same time as their hearing aids had significant benefits compared to those who only got hearing aids. These benefits included:

For a general summary of this project, please see our article in the Innov-age Hearing issue.

For detailed information on the research findings see:

Ferguson, MA., Brandreth, M., Leighton, P., Brassington, W., Wharrad, H. A Randomized Controlled Trial to Evaluate the Benefits of a Multimedia Educational Programme for First-time Hearing Aid UsersEar and Hearing, Nov 12: [Epub ahead of print]. Open access.

Ferguson, MA., Brandreth, M., Brassington, W. Wharrad, H. (2015). Information retention and overload in first-time hearing aid users: an interactive multimedia educational solution. American Journal of Audiology, 24: 329-332.

Ferguson, MA., Henshaw, H. (2015). Computer and internet interventions to optimise listening and learning for people with hearing loss: accessibility, use and adherenceAmerican Journal of Audiology, 24: 338-343.

For more information, please contact Dr Melanie Ferguson.

The success of this research is attributable to the high level of participation by patients and professionals (from NHS Audiology, private sector, hearing-aid industry and charities) at all major stages.

Click here to view a brief PDF summary of the video

“From ancient scripts to live video conversations, the art of communication and passing on a message has taken many different forms, but up until now information surrounding hearing aid management has relied on either face to face information giving or written text. It is therefore exciting to be involved in the production and use of an interactive video tool for passing on information. Informative, constructive and easily accessible, I cannot wait for the product to be available to all patients issued with an NHS hearing aid.”

Karen Advanced Audiologist

“If I did not have the DVD I might have given up wearing my hearing aids. Because of the DVD I have entered a much easier self-directing and informative environment, instead of a wild woolly and noisy world. I think the DVD is a well thought out educational resource.”

Hazel Participant

“Everyone should have access to the video tutorials in some form or another’. Her friend who was fitted with hearing aids 10 days later, frequently contacted her for advice enquiring ‘What does the video say?”

Isobel Participant