Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Audiology (AuD)


School of Communication

First Advisor

Matthew D. Bryan


The present double blind study sought to determine if experienced hearing aid users can differentiate between different levels of hearing aid technology. Specifically, the following research questions were addressed: (1) Are HINT scores affected by level of hearing aid technology for experienced hearing aid users?; 2) Is benefit/satisfaction of hearing aids affected by level of technology for experienced hearing aid users?; and (3) How do hearing aid users rank different levels of technology? If a perceptual difference in hearing aid technology is identified by hearing aid users, participants were asked to identify how money much they would be willing to pay for the difference in perceived benefit. Therefore, ten experienced, adult hearing aid users with bilateral symmetrical sensorineural hearing loss were fit binaurally with three levels of hearing aid technology (i.e., entry-level, mid-level, and premium-level) and underwent one-week trial periods with each set of hearing aids. Participants were asked to answer three questionnaires (i.e., International Outcomes Inventory for Hearing Aids [IOI-HA], Post-Fitting Questionnaire adapted from the Marketrak Survey [Kochkin, 2010], and the Cost and Preference Questionnaire) after each hearing aid trial period to rate level of satisfaction and benefit with hearing aids. Participants completed the Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) to determine speech understanding ability in noise conditions.

HINT results revealed no difference between hearing aid technology level and the ability to improve speech discrimination in noise abilities in participants. Results from the Post-Fitting Questionnaire, displayed greater satisfaction with entry-level hearing aid compared to mid-level hearing aids, but no difference in mid and high-end hearing aids. Results comparing entry-level and high-end technology approached significance. Further investigation identified the overall benefit and comfort in loud sounds subscales as providing greater satisfaction when using entry-level hearing aids over mid-level hearing aids. Results from the IOI-HA indicated no substantial difference between technology levels. Furthermore, level of technology did not affect speech understanding in noise abilities and showed a minimal effect on satisfaction and benefit with hearing aids, depending on the questionnaire used. Results were variable across testing methods; therefore, no superior level of hearing aid technology was identified. Clinical implications/application will be discussed.