Partnerships between deaf people and hearing dogs: Learning from a randomised controlled trial with a third sector organisation of a complex non-traditional intervention

Activity: Talk or presentationOral presentation


Existing evaluations of hearing dogs, a type of assistance dog, are limited to a handful of poor quality studies.
A research team worked closely with the UK’s only hearing dogs charity to develop an acceptable study design. This paper reports our experiences of designing and running a trial with this charity.
Methodological Challenges
Key challenges included:
• designing a robust RCT which fulfilled the charity’s maximum wait time commitment to receiving a hearing dog;
• triggers for outcomes data collection required on-going access to the charity’s management information systems (MIS);
• hearing dog partnerships are created following a scrupulous process of matching individuals’ needs and preferences against the pool of newly trained hearing dogs.
• the charity was concerned that adherence to trial arm allocation may not always be possible.
Methodological Solutions
Participants are randomised to ‘prioritised’ vs ‘usual application timeline’ (UAT) groups. Systems were introduced to prevent those in the UAT group exceeding maximum wait time.
A Study Support Officer role was created. Based at charity headquarters, the SSO has controlled access to their MIS and administers trial data collection; however, they have no access to the data collected.
The positive working relationship between the researchers and charity has been maintained. The SSO role has proved very successful. Study take-up was high (77%) with recruitment targets exceeded (n=213). Protocol adherence is, to date, extremely good.
Charities can be keen to collaborate on rigorous evaluations of their services. Trials can be achieved in these contexts.
Period6 Sept 2018
Event titleRandomised Controlled Trials in the Social Sciences - Thirteenth Annual Conference
Event typeConference
LocationYork, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionNational


  • Randomised Controlled Trial
  • Hearing Dogs
  • Mental Wellbeing
  • Cost Effectiveness