Money is always a controversial topic if discussed in reference to healthcare. This study raises the interesting topic of difficulties when it comes to discussing the costs of hearing aids with customers. Sixty-two audiological appointments were recorded and discussions concerning the cost of hearing aids were analysed. Participants were audiologists and their customers – older adults with age related hearing loss. Both audiologists and customers did not feel comfortable while discussing costs of hearing aids. Customers often reacted negatively when presented with the prices for hearing aids. Some customers cried, saying that they would not be able to afford hearing aids. Audiologists found it difficult to manage this situation. Often their only reaction was offering a crying customer tissues without even trying to comfort them. Although discussing the costs of hearing aids is always difficult, it was more manageable if customers were presented with several price options rather than one cost option at a time. This study revealed that over 70% of audiologists used the second approach that often led to a negative reaction from their customers if the price offered was not affordable for them. Audiologists who decided to present all available hearing aid cost options to their customers faced fewer difficulties during a discussion and customers were keener to engage in discussion. One could argue that these issues do not apply to the situation in the UK where people are eligible for free hearing aids. However, it is important to stress that several clinical commissioning groups are considering cuts to free hearing aids on the NHS and a discussion of the cost of hearing aids may become a necessary part of the audiological consultation. 

Difficult conversations: talking about cost in audiology consultations with older adults.
Ekberg K, Barr C, Hickson L.
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Joanna Lemanska

De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

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