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Applications of qualitative grounded theory methodology to investigate hearing loss: protocol for a qualitative systematic review
  1. Yasmin H K Ali1,2,
  2. Nicola Wright3,
  3. David Charnock3,
  4. Helen Henshaw1,2,
  5. Derek Hoare1,2
  1. 1Hearing Sciences, National Institute of Health Research Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK
  2. 2School of Medicine, Clinical Neuroscience, Hearing Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK
  3. 3School of Health Sciences, Queen's Medical Centre, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK
  1. Correspondence to Yasmin H K Ali; yasmin.ali{at}


Introduction Hearing loss is a chronic condition affecting 12 million individuals in the UK. People with hearing loss regularly experience difficulties interacting in everyday conversations. These difficulties in communication can result in a person with hearing loss withdrawing from social situations and becoming isolated. While hearing loss research has largely deployed quantitative methods to investigate various aspects of the condition, qualitative research is becoming more widespread. Grounded theory is a specific qualitative methodology that has been used to establish novel theories on the experiences of living with hearing loss.

Method and analysis The aim of this systematic review is to establish how grounded theory has been applied to investigate the psychosocial aspects of hearing loss. Methods are reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis Protocols 2015 checklist. Studies included in this review will have applied grounded theory as an overarching methodology or have grounded theory embedded among other methodologies. Studies included will have adult participants (≥18 years) who are either people with an acquired hearing loss, their family and friends (communication partners), or healthcare practitioners including audiologists, general practitioners, ear, nose and throat specialists and hearing therapists. The quality of application of grounded theory in each study will be assessed using the Guideline for Reporting and Evaluating Grounded Theory Research Studies.

Ethics and dissemination As only secondary data will be used in this systematic review, ethical approval is not required. No other ethical issues are foreseen. This review is registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews ( Findings will be disseminated via peer-reviewed publications and at relevant academic conferences. Findings may also be published in relevant professional and third sector newsletters and magazines as appropriate. Data will inform future research and guideline development.

PROSPERO registration number CRD42019134197.

  • qualitative research
  • hearing loss
  • systematic review
  • grounded theory

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  • Contributors YHKA is the guarantor of the review (CRD42019134197). YHKA led on the development of the review protocol and drafted the manuscript. YHKA, NW, DC, HH and DH contributed to the development of the eligibility criteria and selection process. NW, DC, HH and DH all read drafts of the manuscript, provided feedback and approved the final manuscript.

  • Funding This systematic review presents independent research with differing sources of funding. YHKA is funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Nottingham Biomedical Research Programme and Sonova Holding AG. DH is funded by the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre Programme. HH is funded through an NIHR Career Development Fellowship (NIHR Ref: CDF-2018–11-ST2-016). NW and DC are funded by the University of Nottingham.

  • Disclaimer The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement PHL were consulted in the identification of the most relevant healthcare practitioner roles when seeking hearing healthcare services. The prominent professions identified were audiologists, general practitioners (GPs), ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists and hearing therapists. Therefore, they have been included within the inclusion criteria.

    Patient and public involvement will also include the preparation and dissemination of a lay summary of the review findings for a general audience. This will be achieved with appropriate training and support, provided by the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) manager.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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