Randomised controlled feasibility trial of the Active Communication Education programme plus hearing aid provision versus hearing aid provision alone (ACE to HEAR): a study protocol

Nick Thyer, Judith M Watson, Cath Jackson, Louise Hickson, Christina Maynard, Anne Forster, Laura Kate Clark, Kerry Jane Bell, Caroline Marie Fairhurst, Kim Cocks, Rob Gardner, Kate Iley, Lorraine Gailey

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Introduction Up to 30% of hearing aids fitted to new adult clients are reported to be of low benefit and used intermittently or not at all. Evidence suggests that additional interventions paired with service-delivery redesign may help improve hearing aid use and benefit. The range of interventions available is limited. In particular, the efficacy of interventions like the Active Communication Education (ACE) programme that focus on improving communication success with hearing-impaired people and significant others, has not previously been assessed. We propose that improved communication outcomes associated with the ACE intervention, lead to an increased perception of hearing aid value and more realistic expectations associated with hearing aid use and ownership, which are reported to be key barriers and facilitators for successful hearing aid use. This study will assess the feasibility of delivering ACE and undertaking a definitive randomised controlled trial to evaluate whether ACE would be a cost-effective and acceptable way of increasing quality of life through improving communication and hearing aid use in a public health service such as the National Health Service.

Methods and analysis This will be a randomised controlled, open feasibility trial with embedded economic and process evaluations delivered in audiology departments in two UK cities. We aim to recruit 84 patients (and up to 84 significant others) aged 18 years and over, who report moderate or less than moderate benefit from their new hearing aid. The feasibility of a large-scale study and the acceptability of the ACE intervention will be measured by recruitment rates, treatment retention, follow-up rates and qualitative interviews.

Ethics and dissemination Ethical approval granted by South East Coast-Surrey Research Ethics Committee (16/LO/2012). Dissemination of results will be via peer-reviewed research publications both online and in print, conference presentations, posters, patient forums and Trust bulletins.

Trial registration number ISRCTN28090877.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBMJ Open
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018

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© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2018.

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