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Speech and hearing professionals' perspectives on providing aural rehabilitation services to adults with hearing loss in Alberta

  • Author / Creator
    Harding, Alison M.
  • The occurrence of hearing loss increases markedly with age. Given that the population in Alberta is aging, hearing loss is expected to affect an increasing proportion of people in this province in the coming years. Research indicates that approximately half of adults in Canada with hearing loss are underserved. Aural rehabilitation (AR) services, which can include the assessment/screening of hearing, selection/fitting dispensing of hearing aids/listening devices, and post-fitting rehabilitation (such as adjustment counselling) are considered to be of benefit to adults with hearing loss. AR falls primarily within the scope of practice of three professional groups in Canada: audiologists, hearing-aid practitioners (HAPs) (also known as hearing-instrument practitioners), and speech-language pathologists (SLPs). Prior to conducting this project, very little was known about the delivery of AR services to adults in Alberta. As such, the present study is primarily an investigation of AR services provided by these groups to adults in the province. This thesis contains two studies. The purpose of Study I was to describe the current state of AR services for adults in Alberta. In order to do so, a survey was made available to all SLPs, audiologists, and HAPs registered to practice in Alberta. Other known providers of AR services (e.g., speechreading instructors and psychologists) were also invited to participate. Descriptive and inferential statistics were utilized to analyze survey data. The purpose of Study II was to describe the perceptions of SLPs regarding SLP provision of AR services. Within this study, interviews were conducted with SLPs. Interview data were analyzed using a qualitative description approach. Findings revealed that most audiologists and HAPs reported that they provide AR services to adult clients, while very few SLPs reported that they do so. A small group of other professionals, including psychologists, speechreading instructors, and AR specialists also reported that they provide AR services to this population. In terms of the services provided, the main focus of audiologists is reported to be the assessment of hearing, while HAPs reported that their focus is primarily on the selection/fitting/dispensing of hearing aids/listening devices. Members of each of the three main professional groups reported providing post-fitting rehabilitation services to adults. A comparison of professionals’ perceived roles/responsibilities in AR with the services they deliver in practice revealed that SLPs are not using the full-range of their knowledge and skills in AR to deliver services to adults. SLPs explained that barriers, such as their lack of confidence to deliver AR services, make it difficult to provide these services. If SLPs are to increase their involvement in delivering AR services to adults with hearing loss in the future, the following changes are recommended: greater interprofessional collaboration between SLPs and other providers of AR; opportunities for SLPs to practice hands-on AR skills within coursework, clinical practica, and post-professional training; and SLP governing body advocacy with regard to the importance of AR services (in particular post-fitting rehabilitation services) for the well-being of adults with hearing loss. SLPs have the potential to increase their involvement in the delivery of AR services to adults in Alberta, and as a result, better serve the growing population of adults with hearing loss in the province.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    Spring 2017
  • Type of Item
    Thesis
  • Degree
    Master of Science
  • DOI
    https://doi.org/10.7939/R3V11W26W
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.