Cochlear implants (CI) can restore hearing in the profoundly deaf ear. Risk/ benefit and cost considerations dictate strict criteria that must be met for patients to be eligible. People with single-sided deafness are not eligible to receive a cochlear implant through the NHS. The aim of this qualitative study was to identify factors that were vital in choosing CI treatment by patients with post-lingual single-sided deafness. Nineteen CI users with German as a native language participated in the study. The authors created a semi-structured questionnaire for interviews and additionally the International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids (IOI-HA) was completed for each participant.
There were four core categories identified in which CI were helpful: sound localisation, tinnitus, quality of life and fear of losing the second ear. Interestingly, although tinnitus was indicated as a serious issue, it was rarely acknowledged as the main reason for cochlear implementation. The most important factors for seeking this treatment were improving quality of life and sound localisation which is in accordance with other literature.
The authors also commented on the novel aspect that was revealed, that CI may distress related to fear of losing hearing in the better ear. In this study all participants found CI very useful and helpful and this study may be a good introduction to a discussion on extending eligibility criteria for cochlear implantation.