The Stigma of Wearing Hearing Aids in an Adolescent Aboriginal Population

A Strange, April Johnson, B RYAN, A Yonovitz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The occurrence of otitis media (OM) and associated conductive hearing loss in rural and remote Aboriginal communities is extraordinarily high. Despite the increasing number of people experiencing difficulties with hearing, hearing aids are not being used to the extent that they should be given the magnitude of the hearing problem. This study explored whether a 'Hearing Aid Effect' (HAE) (negative stigma attached to the presence of a hearing aid) is a basis for the lack of amplification use. A sample of Northern Territory Indigenous adolescents boarding at high schools in Alice Springs participated and were asked to judge, using a purpose-designed attitude scale, 12 photographs of male and female peers wearing a behind the ear hearing aid, or a bone conductor hearing aid or wearing no hearing aids. The results indicated that the more visible the hearing aid, the more negatively the adolescents viewed the individual. There was also a trend towards a response bias as a function of the gender of the hearing-aid user. Interestingly, it was found that a brief intervention explaining the benefits of hearing aids provided some desensitisation to the bias of the HAE indicated by reduced stigma in participants.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)19-37
    Number of pages19
    JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Audiology
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2008


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