Bone Anchored Hearing Aids for Single Sided Deafness

Executive Summary

The Ear Foundation was commissioned by The Oticon Foundation to conduct, qualitative research into service user experiences of getting and using a Bone Anchored Hearing Aid (BAHA).  The commissioned research has two work packages.  The first work package (reported elsewhere) explores the experiences of family groups of having a deaf child who uses a BAHA (either implanted or prior to implant on a headband).  The second (reported in this document) investigates the views and experiences of adult users with Single Sided Deafness (SSD).  Both of these work packages were carried out in partnership between The Ear Foundation and CLAHRC-NDL (Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire).

Qualitative, semi structured interviews were conducted with 12 adults who considered themselves to be SSD.  The interviews aimed to explore experiences of the care pathway and the practical issues related to getting and using a BAHA device.  Eleven of the interviews were conducted over the telephone and one was done face to face.  All the interviews were audio recorded and fully transcribed.  An SL24 form was obtained from the NHS research ethics committee and all participants were asked to complete consent forms.  As all recruitment took place through The Ear Foundation research forum there was no further ethical review requirements.

Four key themes were resonant with the participants’ accounts:

  • Being Deaf.
  • Care Processes.
  • Information and Support Needs.
  • Using a BAHA.

The findings from the study demonstrate that adults with SSD valued the improved access to sound that a BAHA device gave them.  Participants were clear that it did not return hearing to “normal” but the awareness of sounds on a side which had previously been “dead” had huge emotional, psychological and social impacts.  Although many participants had an “instant” reaction when the sound processor was switched on, an adjustment period was necessary to become familiar with the BAHA and the sound it transmitted.  Unfortunately, systemic failures were noted within health services, such as individuals becoming lost in the system, delays caused by funding problems and notes being unavailable for appointments.  The report concludes with a number of recommendations for further research and professional and organisational developments. 


You can download the full report here: BAHA_SSD_Report.pdf