EuroTrak UK: people wish they had hearing instruments sooner

Eurotrak 2018


Hearing aids are not only good for hearing loss, but contribute to better and more active lives, better quality of life and better overall health. 71% of wearers wish they obtained a hearing instrument sooner as they now realise how much they have been missing out.

Now in its fourth year, EuroTrak UK data is showing an interesting picture of hearing loss prevalence, adoption rate and satisfaction with hearing aids. There are some great messages for the profession such as better quality of sleep, satisfaction about improved quality of life, the fact that people with hearing aids are not teased, but that hearing-impaired people without hearing aids are more likely to be teased. The latest results also confirm that people with hearing aids are less at risk of developing depressive symptoms, and are less “worn out” in the evenings, physically and mentally. 71% of all hearing aid owners think they should have obtained their hearing aids sooner. They now have better social lives, improved mental and emotional health, they perform better at work and are less tired in the evening.

As with the previous surveys, EuroTrak UK 2018 was designed and executed by the Anovum market research agency in Zurich, Switzerland, on behalf of the European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers Association (EHIMA). Step one in the process was getting approximately 15,000 responses to assess the prevalence of hearing loss and hearing aid ownership. The next stage involved detailed questions of the target groups of the hearing impaired with hearing aids and the non-adopters.

The 2018 EuroTrak UK representative sample is 14,855 people, of whom 1,300 had impaired hearing. Of these, 698 were hearing aid owners and 602 hearing impaired non-owners. The survey indicates a hearing loss prevalence of 9.7% in the UK. The rate of adoption of hearing aids in the UK continues to rise. It was 42.4% in 2015, 41.1% in 2012 and 38.6% in 2009, it is now 47.6%, which continues to be amongst the highest in the world. The binaural rate for 2018 is 61% (61% in 2015; 54% in 2012 and 47% in 2009).

34% have had a hearing test in the last 5 years. Doctors and hearing aid dispensers are the most important sources of information and therefore gatekeepers for people to gather information about hearing aids. Pleasingly, the drop-out rates throughout the process are decreasing! Of those who believe they have a hearing loss, 72% visited their GP or an ENT doctor. Of the GP consultations, only 9% recommended no further action; 41% were sent to an audiologist and 50% to an ENT. 66% believe that the over 55s should have their hearing tested every year and 75% believe the family doctor should perform a short screen when they attend for medical check-ups.

It is taking people, on average, three years between becoming aware of their hearing loss and obtaining hearing aids. 74% of the 2018 wearers own hearing instruments that were fitted in 2015 or later and the average age of currently used hearing aids is 2.3 years. The overall lifetime of hearing aids is typically 4 years before owners replace or upgrade. In that time, 31% will have had a repair. 75% of those surveyed received their hearing instrument from the NHS, down from 83% in 2012. Only 22% of UK hearing aid owners are aware of their hearing aid brand. 15% of owners use an accessory such as a TVstreamer, App or remote control. Of those, 77% are satisfied with it.

Most people get satisfaction

Overall satisfaction with hearing aids is 74%, lower than France or Germany. Satisfaction is greater the longer the hearing aid is worn each day. UK wearers use their hearing aids on average for 7.8 hours a day (lower than France or German). Satisfaction jumps to 90% for those that wear their hearing instruments for more than 8 hours a day. 85% believe their hearing aids work better than or as expected. Good news for hearing aid owners and manufacturers is the positive satisfaction trend across all listening situations. Hearing aid performance in all listening situations has improved, from a 5% increase in satisfaction in one-to-one conversations to a 14% increase in satisfaction of hearing aid performance in noisy situations.

The survey results do show the positive impact of hearing aids on quality of life. Communication effectiveness and participating in group activities, social life and confidence improve significantly for hearing aid wearers and the greater the loss, the more impactful the hearing aid is. 94% of hearing aid owners declare that their hearing aids improve their quality of life at least sometimes. 2 out of 3 hearing aid owners feel more confident moving in a city since wearing their hearing instruments.

Hearing aids improve more than just your hearing

87% of working hearing aid owners state that their hearing aids are useful for their job (81% in 2015). They also believe that hearing aids increase the chance of them getting promoted, being in the right job and getting a higher salary compared to those hearing-impaired people who have not obtained hearing aids. When looking at general health, hearing aid owners have a lower risk of being depressed (PHQ-2 Screening) compared to impaired non-owners with comparable hearing loss.

Hearing aid wearers feel less physically and mentally exhausted in the evenings compared to hearing impaired people who do not have hearing aids. 56% were also happy with their quality of sleep, compared to 41% of people with no hearing aids.

Hearing aid owners don’t believe people make fun of or reject them because of their hearing aids. It is more likely somebody makes fun or rejects a hearing-impaired person who doesn’t use a hearing aid. 73% of the hearing impaired population who do not own hearing aids have been teased about their hearing loss, 37% say it happens regularly. For people wearing hearing aids only 5% said they were regularly teased. 71% said they were never made fun of when wearing their hearing instruments. The hearing care professional is the biggest influencer in people agreeing to hearing instruments. The 2018 EuroTrak provides some very useful messaging and food for thought for the profession.

Article written from the data of the EuroTrak UK survey 2018, completed by Anovum for EHIMA (European Hearing Instrument Manufacturers’ Association)

Victoria Adshead, editor in chief of Audio Infos UK