Hearing aids for adults - benefits and costs

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This review focused on answering:(1) at what level of hearing loss can hearing aids be of sufficient benefit to motivate testing and prescribing and (2) what is known about the value of the various technical features in modern hearing aids.


English language literature was searched for the period 1990 through December 2002 using MEDLINE. The scientific quality of the retrieved literature was assessed by two reviewers. Results: Hearing aids mainly benefit those with moderate to severe hearing loss. Hearing aids amplify sound but do not provide normal hearing. In regard to sound quality and benefits in daily life, non-linear technology is better than linear. There is no evidence that digital hearing aids are superior to modern analog hearing aids. No clinical trials have shown that two hearing aids are superior to one hearing aid. Conclusion: The need for further scientific studies is substantial.

How to cite this report: SBU. Hearing aids for adults – benefits and costs. Stockholm: Swedish Council on Health Technology Assessment in Health Care (SBU); 2003. SBU report no 164 (in Swedish).

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SBU Assessment presents a comprehensive, systematic assessment of available scientific evidence. The certainty of the evidence for each finding is systematically reviewed and graded. Full assessments include economic, social, and ethical impact analyses.

SBU assessments are performed by a team of leading professional practitioners and academics, patient/user representatives and SBU staff. Prior to approval and publication, assessments are reviewed by independent experts, SBU’s Scientific Advisory Committees and Board of Directors.

Published: 1/1/2003
Contact SBU: registrator@sbu.se
Report no: 164
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