The effectiveness of alternative listening devices to conventional hearing aids for adults with hearing loss: a systematic review

Chief investigator

Dr David Maidment

Study team

Dr Melanie Ferguson
Dr Alex Barker

Dr Jun Xia (Systematic Review Solutions Ltd.)
Farhad Shokraneh (Medical Information Specialist, University of Nottingham)


NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU

Study period

2016 - present

Background and rationale

Hearing aids are the most common intervention for hearing loss. However, the majority of people that would benefit from using hearing aids do not take them up.

Technological advances have led to an increase of alternative devices to conventional hearing aids. These include hearing aids that can be customised using a Smartphone, Smartphone-based ‘hearing aid’ apps, personal sound amplification products, and wireless hearing products.

Whether alternative listening devices are effective for people with hearing loss is of clear interest to people with hearing loss and hearing healthcare practitioners, who have ranked “Can new technologies replace hearing aids?” as one of topmost ‘unanswered research questions’ for research concerning mild-to-moderate hearing loss in the recent James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership.


As a first step to answer this question, we are completing a systematic review that will evaluate the quality of existing evidence concerning whether alternative listening devices are an effective intervention for people with hearing loss.

This is important because a high-quality, impartial body of evidence is necessary to determine whether alternatives could be adopted and recommended to people with hearing loss.

It is expected that this review will help inform future trials on alternative devices.