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Accentuating the Positive: Overcoming the Complexities of Stigma Through Thoughtful Product Design & More-Effective Person-Centered Communication

Audiology Online, June 17, 2024

Stigma is pernicious and insidious; it rears its ugly head throughout the patient journey. From resistance to getting a hearing test to consistently wearing hearing aids, stigma is a major obstacle inhibiting help seeking, hearing aid acquisition and daily use of them. The objective of this article is threefold: 1.) to review the characteristics of the stigma associated with hearing loss, 2.) through a literature review, assess the effect stigma has on attitudes and behaviors of persons with hearing loss, and 3.) discuss the roles of the hearing aid manufacturer and the clinician in addressing stigma and how consequences of stigma can be more effectively addressed and overcome.

By working together, innovating the form factor design and functionality of hearing aids and through better, more positive messaging, we can put a dent in the damaging effects that stigma has on the quality of life of middle-age and older adults. All of us play a role in accentuating the positive experiences of wearing hearing aids and eliminating the negative effects of stigma. By sticking to the principles set forth in this article, neither persons with hearing loss nor hearing care professionals will get caught in between perpetuating negative stereotypes of age-related hearing loss and positively affirming all the ways to overcome it.

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Brian Taylor, AuD,

Brian Taylor is the Senior Director of Audiology at Signia US. He is also the editor of Audiology Practices, a quarterly journal of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology and editor-at-large for Hearing Healthcare and Technology Matters, a leading industry blog.

 

Niels Søgaard Jensen, M.Sc.

Niels Søgaard Jensen received his M.Sc. degree in acoustics and psychoacoustics from the Technical University of Denmark. He has a background as research engineer in the hearing aid industry where he has done research on various topics related to hearing loss and hearing aids. In 2016 he joined WS Audiology where he holds a position as Senior Evidence and Research Specialist in Lynge, Denmark.