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The authors of this study note significant third-party disability experienced by significant others (SO) or communication partners of persons with hearing impairment (PHI). The study explored contextual and psychosocial factors for successful auditory rehabilitation, advocating for the importance of including SO in health-related quality of life (HRQoL) measures alongside those conducted with PHI. Forty-one participants were recruited at pre and post implant. Groups disclosed personal contextual factors, such as, age, socio-economic status, mental health and wellbeing, hearing and current coping mechanisms. Numerous questionnaires were administered; two focus on SO experience of cochlear implantation and hearing disability. Other questionnaires assess life satisfaction, perceived stress, depression and problem-solving skills. PTA results for SO were included, identifying no correlation between SO hearing status and third party disability. Overall, contextual factors, gender and educational level impacted on SO experiences more greatly than those of age and coping styles. Lower SO stress levels suggested more willingness to participate in appointments as well as role model positive health behaviours to partners. Post-implant HRQoL improved, however SOs remain concerned about PHI safety and continue to experience third party disability in their social and intimate lives. The study supports the real importance of including SO in shared decision making. SOs can be technology-focused, assuming that technology can solve communication challenges. Thus, more emphasis should be placed on SO inclusion in the whole assessment and rehabilitation process, alongside more specific measures available to assess the complexities of hearing impairment and its relationship with SO wellbeing.

Third-party disability in cochlear implant users.
Völter C, Götze L, Ballasch I.
2022; Online ahead of print.
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Charlotte Rogers

BSc Healthcare Science (Audiology), Allied Health Sciences, De Montfort University, Leicester.

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