Scoping study on the effect of background sounds on hearing aid usage

Chief investigator

Dr Brian Gygi

Study team


NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU programme

Study period


A scoping review was conducted, focussing on background sounds and adult hearing aid users, including aspects of aversion (finding background sounds annoying or disturbing)  and interference (where background noise hampers the ability to hear what someone is saying to you). The aim was to establish the current body of knowledge, identify knowledge gaps, and to suggest possible future directions for research.  Data were gathered using a systematic search strategy, consistent with scoping review methodology.

Searches of public databases between 1988 and 2014 returned 1182 published records. After exclusions for duplicates and out-of- scope works, 76 records remained for further analysis.  Content analysis was used to group the records into five separate themes. Content analysis indicated numerous themes relating to background sounds. Five broad emergent themes addressed the development and validation of outcome instruments, satisfaction surveys, assessments of hearing aid technology and signal processing, acclimatization to the device post-fitting, and non-auditory influences on benefit and satisfaction.  There is an established knowledge that two independent constructs underlie the effects of background sounds:  interference of background sounds on speech communication, and aversion to the background sounds themselves. Related to this, laboratory-based measures provide a quantitative assessment of speech performance under controlled noise conditions, while patient-reported measures address clinical need (assessment and rehabilitation). Other conclusions are more suggestive than established.

A manuscript reporting this work is currently in the peer review process.