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Effectiveness of group versus individual hearing aid visits.

Collins MP, Souza PE, O'Neill S, Yueh B. Effectiveness of group versus individual hearing aid visits. Journal of rehabilitation research and development. 2007 Jan 1; 44(5):739-49.

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Demand for hearing aid services in the Veterans Health Administration increased over 300% from 1996 to 2005, challenging the delivery of timely, high-quality care. Using group visits may help meet these needs, but whether this approach would still provide high-quality rehabilitation is unclear. This study determined whether group visits worsen hearing aid outcomes. It included a retrospective observational cohort in veterans seeking hearing aids at the Department of Veterans Affairs Puget Sound Health Care System from September 2004 to March 2005, when the clinic was using both individual and group visits. Medical records were reviewed for all new hearing aid patients seen during this period. Hearing-related outcome questionnaires were compared between patients seen for individual versus group fitting and/or follow-up visits. Results revealed that hearing thresholds were similar between patients seen individually and in groups. Of 74 patients who returned self-administered questionnaires after the follow-up, those who received both fitting and follow-up in a group format reported similar hearing handicap and better hearing-related function, satisfaction, and adherence than patients who received individual visits. Group visits did not appear to yield worse outcomes in this nonrandomized retrospective chart review. Definitive statements must await randomized comparisons.

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