Discovering the unmet needs of people with difficulties understanding speech in noise 1 and a normal or near-normal audiogram
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Purpose: A proportion of people with a normal audiogram or mild hearing loss (NA-MHL) 24 experience greater than expected difficulty hearing speech in noise. This preliminary 25 exploratory study employed a design thinking approach to better understand the clinical 26 pathway and treatment options experienced by this population. 27 Method: Exploratory survey data was analysed from 233 people with NA-MHL who had 28 consulted a clinician and 47 clinicians. Qualitative analysis was performed on interview data 29 from 21 people with NA-MHL and 7 clinicians. 30 Results: Results revealed that noisy environments, such as restaurants, were where many 31 people experienced listening difficulties. Most people with NA-MHL were not offered a 32 treatment option at their audiology appointment and their satisfaction with the appointment 33 was diverse. Many clients reported frustration at being told that their hearing was “normal”. 34 Data from clinicians showed that there is no standard test protocol for this population, and 35 most felt that they did not have adequate training or resources to help NA-MHL clients. Conclusions: This study discusses the research needs regarding the experience of those with 37 NA-MHL, their help-seeking behaviours, and treatment options. Understanding these needs 38 is the first step to designing projects to improve the quality of life of this population.