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Hearing aids for adults - benefits and costs

SBU Assessment

Presents a comprehensive, systematic assessment of available scientific evidence for effects on health, social welfare or disability. Full assessments include economic, social and ethical impact analyses. Assessment teams include professional practitioners and academics. Before publication the report is reviewed by external experts, and scientific conclusions approved by the SBU Board of Directors.

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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).

Published: Report no: 164
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