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Hearing aid evaluation in EMA: Missing situations (Schinkel-Bielefeld et al., 2020)

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-09-18, 18:27 authored by Nadja Schinkel–Bielefeld, Patricia Kunz, Anja Zutz, Bastian Buder
Background: Ecological momentary assessment (EMA) is a method to evaluate hearing aids in everyday life that uses repeated smartphone-based questionnaires to assess a situation as it happens. Although being ecologically valid and avoiding memory bias, this method may be prone to selection biases due to questionnaires being skipped or the phone not being carried along in certain situations.
Purpose: This investigation analyzed which situations are underrepresented in questionnaire responses and physically measured objective EMA data (e.g., sound level), and how such underrepresentation may depend on different triggers.
Method: In an EMA study, 20 subjects with hearing impairment provided daily information on reasons for missed data, that is, skipped questionnaires or missing connections between their phone and hearing aids.
Results: Participants often deliberately did not bring the study phone to social situations or skipped questionnaires because they considered it inappropriate, for example, during church service or when engaging in conversation. They answered fewer questions in conversations with multiple partners and were more likely to postpone questionnaires when not in quiet environments.
Conclusion: Data for social situations will likely be underrepresented in EMA. However, these situations are particularly important for the evaluation of hearing aids, as individuals with hearing impairment often have difficulties communicating in noisy situations. Thus, it is vital to optimize the design of the study to find a balance between avoiding memory bias and enabling subjects to report retrospectively on situations where phone usage may be difficult. The implications for several applications of EMA are discussed.

Supplemental Material S1. Questionnaires and English translations.

Schinkel-Bielefeld, N., Kunz, P., Lutz, A., & Bruder, B. (2020). Evaluation of hearing aids in everyday life using ecological momentary assessment: What situations are we missing? American Journal of Audiology, 29(3S), XXX-XXX.

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: 4th International Meeting on Internet and Audiology.