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Effectiveness of alternative listening devices to conventional hearing aids for adults with hearing loss: a systematic review protocol
  1. David W Maidment1,2,
  2. Alex B Barker1,2,
  3. Jun Xia3,
  4. Melanie A Ferguson1,4
    1. 1National Institute for Health Research Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit, Nottingham, UK
    2. 2Division of Clinical Neuroscience, School of Medicine, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
    3. 3Systematic Review Solutions Limited, Nottingham, UK
    4. 4Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, Nottingham, UK
    1. Correspondence to Dr David W Maidment; David.Maidment{at}


    Introduction Hearing loss is a major public health concern, affecting over 11 million people in the UK. While hearing aids are the most common clinical intervention for hearing loss, the majority of people that would benefit from using hearing aids do not take them up. Recent technological advances have led to a rapid increase of alternative listening devices to conventional hearing aids. These include hearing aids that can be customised using a smartphone, smartphone-based ‘hearing aid’ apps, personal sound amplification products and wireless hearing products. However, no systematic review has been published evaluating whether alternative listening devices are an effective management strategy for people with hearing loss.

    Methods and analysis The objective of this systematic review is to assess whether alternative listening devices are an effective intervention for adults with hearing loss. Methods are reported according to the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-analyses Protocols (PRISMA-P) 2015 checklist. Retrospective or prospective studies, randomised controlled trials, non-randomised controlled trials, and before-after comparison studies will be eligible for inclusion. We will include studies with adult participants (≥18 years) with a mild or moderate hearing loss. The intervention should be an alternative listening device to a conventional hearing aid (comparison). Studies will be restricted to outcomes associated with the consequences of hearing loss. We will search relevant databases to identify published, completed but unpublished and ongoing trials. The overall quality of included evidence will be evaluated using the GRADE system, and meta-analysis performed if appropriate.

    Ethics and dissemination No ethical issues are foreseen. The findings will be reported at national and international conferences, primarily audiology, and ear, nose and throat, and in a peer-reviewed journal using the PRISMA guidelines.

    Review registration number PROSPERO CRD4201502958.


    This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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    • Twitter Follow David Maidment at @DavidWMaidment

    • Collaborators Dr Farhad Shokraneh (Information Specialist, Systematic Review Solutions Limited, Nottingham, UK).

    • Contributors DWM is the guarantor of the review (CRD42015029582). DWM led on the development of all sections of the review protocol, and produced and approved the manuscript. DWM, ABB and JX developed the risk of bias assessment strategy and data synthesis plan. MAF, ABB and JX contributed to the development of the eligibility criteria, selection process, data collection and definition of data items, as well as read, provided feedback and approved the final manuscript.

    • Funding This systematic review presents independent research funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Biomedical Research Unit Programme.

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

    • Competing interests None declared.

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

    • Data sharing statement All data collected according to the data items will be available on request to the extent that they are not included in the final published systematic review article.