The way you choose to reveal your hearing loss may have a significant impact on how you experience the disclosure of the hearing loss. This is the result of a study involving 337 participants conducted by researchers at Massachusetts Eye and Ear in the US.
Three different strategies
The researchers created a 15-question survey to gather information about the actual phrases that patients have used to let others know that they have a hearing impairment. The findings resulted in a categorisation of three types of disclosures:
Non-disclosers tended not to disclosure their hearing loss. When communicating, the non-disclosers were likely to uses phrases that normal hearing people may use such as “I can’t hear you. Please speak up”.
Basis disclosers describes those who disclose that they have a hearing loss and perhaps also share some details about their condition such as what the cause of their hearing loss is.
Multipurpose disclosers disclose their hearing loss and often also suggest an accommodation strategy for communication. They might tell communication partners: “I don’t hear as well out of my left ear. Please walk on my right side”.
Women are better at explaining their hearing loss
The study also found that women with hearing loss were more than twice as likely as men to explain the condition to others in a way that also helps to foster communication. Those using this multipurpose disclosure strategy reported having experienced reactions of help, support, and accommodation after disclosing.
Education on disclosure strategies recommended
The researchers recommend educating people with hearing loss about the different disclosure strategies. Choosing the multipurpose disclosure strategy “may help them gain the confidence they need to disclose their hearing loss and improve communication with others,” said senior author Konstantina Stankovic, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, an otologic surgeon and researcher at Massachusetts Eye and Ear and an associate professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School.
“We think it can be empowering for patients to know that these strategies, and especially the multipurpose disclosure strategy, are available to them,” Dr. Stankovic explains.
The study was published in the journal Ear and Hearing.