Can real-ear insertion gain deviations from generic fitting prescriptions predict self-reported outcomes?
The aim of this study was to determine whether the differences in insertion gains from the first fit to generic prescriptions of hearing aids can predict the self-reported hearing aid (HA) outcomes for first-time and experienced HA users.
This was a prospective observational study.
The study included 885 first-time and 330 experienced HA users with a valid real-ear measurement on both ears and answers to the abbreviated version of the Speech, Spatial, and Quality of Hearing (SSQ12) and the International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids (IOI-HA) questionnaires.
K-means clustering of gain differences between individual real-ear insertion gain to three generic gain prescriptions (NAL-NL2, NAL-RP, and one-third gain rules) was performed. The gain difference at higher frequencies generally differentiated the clusters. The experienced users in the cluster with fittings closest to NAL-NL2 and NAL-RP prescription were found to exhibit a higher IOI-HA Factor 1 score (representing the overall benefit of the hearing aid use). The gain differences to generic prescription did not affect other self-reported outcomes for first-time and experienced HA users.
The experienced HA users with minimal gain deviations from generic prescriptions reported better self-perceived benefits than users with larger deviations. However, this was not apparent in first-time users.