Objective: Although numerous studies have demonstrated that hearing aids provide significant benefit, carefully controlled, multi-center clinical trials have not been conducted. A multi-center clinical trial was conducted to compare the efficacy of three commonly used hearing aid circuits: peak clipping, compression limiting, and wide dynamic range compression. Design: Patients (N = 360) with bilateral, sensorineural hearing loss were studied using a double blind, three-period, three-treatment crossover design. The patients were fit with each of three programmable hearing aid circuits. Outcome tests were administered in the unaided condition at baseline and then after 3 mo usage of each circuit, the tests were administered in both aided and unaided conditions. The outcome test battery included tests of speech recognition, sound quality and subjective scales of hearing aid benefit, including patients' overall rank-order rating of the three circuits. Results: Each hearing aid circuit improved speech recognition markedly, with greater improvement observed for soft and conversationally loud speech in both quiet and noisy listening conditions. In addition, a significant reduction in the problems encountered in communication was observed. Some tests suggested that the two compression hearing aids provided a better listening experience than the peak clipping hearing aid. In the rank-order ratings, patients preferred the compression limiting hearing aid more frequently than the other two hearing aids. Conclusions: The three hearing aid circuits studied provide significant benefit both in quiet and in noisy listening situations. The two compression hearing aids appear to provide superior benefits compared to the linear circuit, although the differences between the hearing aids were smaller than the differences between unaided and aided conditions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Speech and Hearing