Researchers at the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre and the University of Nottingham are launching a new study, sponsored by the University of Nottingham, which will inform the most effective treatment for people with severe hearing loss globally (those with hearing loss greater than 65 dBHL). 

Working with hospitals in the UK, the Nottingham-based research team led by Dr Pádraig Kitterick and Professor Doug Hartley, who are Co-Chief Investigators for the COACH study (comparing cochlear implantation versus hearing aids in adults with severe hearing loss), will aim to find out what is better for this group of patients – hearing aids or a cochlear implant.[1]  

COACH is the first study world-wide set up to answer this question and could change the way patients are treated in the UK and around the world.  

The group of patients included in this ground-breaking research are those with hearing test results and speech understanding scores that fall just outside the range where they would be eligible to receive a cochlear implant on the NHS.[2] 

Dr Pádraig Kitterick, Head of Audiological Science, National Acoustic Laboratories, Sydney, Australia, Co-Chief Investigator for the COACH study said: "The COACH trial is a landmark research study in the field of hearing loss and it will address an important question about who can benefit from cochlear implants. We are delighted to have secured investment to enable the NHS to deliver this important clinical trial, which will be led by a world-leading team of academics, clinicians, and scientists. But more importantly it has been designed and developed with patients living with severe hearing loss.”  

Involving the public and patients is a key feature of this trial. The research has been designed alongside a public member of the research team who recently received a cochlear implant. 

Sarah Chapman, a member of the public with hearing loss who is working alongside the trial team for the COACH trial, said: “The COACH trial is so important because we don't know how hearing aids and cochlear implants compare for people with severe hearing loss just above the current eligibility criteria for implants. This trial, which is being shaped by people with severe hearing loss working alongside researchers, will provide evidence to fill this important gap in knowledge. Instead of best guesses, we’ll have best evidence to inform decisions about treating severe hearing loss.” 

A patient research partners group will advise the researchers throughout the trial on aspects such as when and how to approach people who might wish to take part and what kind of information people will need and want to hear before taking part. 

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[1] A cochlear implant is a small, electronic device that is surgically placed in the ear and provides a sense of hearing to people who have permanent deafness - 


More information is available from Andrew Bennett at at Nottingham University Hospitals. Mobile +44 07812 275573.