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Effectiveness and Cost-Effectiveness of Receiving a Hearing Dog on Mental Well-Being and Health in People With Hearing Loss: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial

By L. Stuttard, C. Hewitt, C. Fairhurst, H. Weatherly, S. Walker, F. Longo, J. Maddison, P. Boyle, B. Beresford

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Abstract

BACKGROUND: People with hearing loss, particularly those who lose their hearing in adulthood, are at an increased risk of social isolation, mental health difficulties, unemployment, loss of independence, risk of accidents, and impaired quality of life. In the United Kingdom, a single third-sector organization provides hearing dogs, a specific type of assistance dog trained to provide sound support to people with hearing loss. These dogs may also deliver numerous psychosocial benefits to recipients. This has not previously been fully investigated. OBJECTIVE: The study aims to evaluate the impact of a hearing dog partnership on the lives of individuals with severe or profound hearing loss. METHODS: A 2-arm, randomized controlled trial will be conducted within the United Kingdom with 162 hearing dog applicants, aged 18 years and older. Participants will be randomized 1:1 using a matched-pairs design to receive a hearing dog sooner than usual (intervention arm: arm B) or to receive a hearing dog within the usual timeframe (comparator arm: arm A). In the effectiveness analysis, the primary outcome is a comparison of mental well-being 6 months after participants in arm B have received a hearing dog (arm A have not yet received a hearing dog), measured using the Short Warwick Edinburgh Mental Well-Being Scale. Secondary outcome measures include the Patient Health Questionnaire-9, Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7, and Work and Social Adjustments Scale. An economic evaluation will assess the cost-effectiveness, including health-related quality-adjusted life years using the EuroQol 5 Dimensions and social care-related quality-adjusted life years. Participants will be followed up for up to 2 years. A nested qualitative study will investigate the impacts of having a hearing dog and how these impacts occur. RESULTS: The study is funded by the National Institute for Health Research's School for Social Care Research. Recruitment commenced in March 2017 and is now complete. A total of 165 participants were randomized. Data collection will continue until January 2020. Results will be published in peer-reviewed journals and at conferences. A summary of the findings will be made available to participants. Ethical approval was received from the University of York's Department of Social Policy and Social Work Research Ethics Committee (reference SPSW/S/17/1). CONCLUSIONS: The findings from this study will provide, for the first time, strong and reliable evidence on the impact of having a hearing dog on people's lives in terms of their quality of life, well-being, and mental health. TRIAL REGISTRATION: International Standard Randomised Controlled Trial Number Registry ISRCTN36452009; http://www.isrctn.com/ISRCTN36452009. INTERNATIONAL REGISTERED REPORT IDENTIFIER (IRRID): DERR1-10.2196/15452.

Publication Title JMIR Res Protoc
Volume 9
Issue 4
Pages e15452
ISBN/ISSN 1929-0748 (Print)1929-0748
DOI 10.2196/15452
Language eng
Notes Stuttard, LucyORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-7205-7151Hewitt, CatherineORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0415-3536Fairhurst, CarolineORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0547-462XWeatherly, HelenORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-9117-6452Walker, SimonORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5750-3691Longo, FrancescoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1833-7328Maddison, JaneORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7963-211XBoyle, PhilipORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4233-8603Beresford, BryonyORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0716-2902Journal ArticleCanadaJMIR Res Protoc. 2020 Apr 17;9(4):e15452. doi: 10.2196/15452.
Author Address Social Policy Research Unit, Department of Social Policy and Social Work, Alcuin B Block, University of York, York, United Kingdom.York Trials Unit, Department of Health Sciences, University of York, York, United Kingdom.Centre for Health Economics, University of York, York, United Kingdom.
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Tags
  1. Assistance animals
  2. Economics
  3. Hearing loss
  4. Qualitative Research
  5. randomized trials