December 1, 2016, by Emma Rayner
C2Hear team scoops NUH Research Impact of the Year Award
Dr Melanie Ferguson, consultant clinical scientist at the NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU, tells of her team’s excitement and delight at winning one of the Oscars of the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust in their annual award ceremony.
There was a lot of nervous excitement when the C2Hear team arrived at the NUH Honours awards evening at the East Midlands Conference Centre. The team had been shortlisted as in the top three nominations out 22 for the ‘Research Impact of the Year’ award. The team included researchers from the NIHR Nottingham Hearing Biomedical Research Unit and the University of Nottingham, audiologists from the Nottingham Audiology Services and, importantly people who wore hearing aids. There were eight of us attending from the larger team of 22 people, with several hundred others turning up for the dinner. When the time for our category, the head of audiology, Will, put his jacket on “just in case” and as the big screens flashed up “The Winner is…” we were all sat on the edge of our seats. Then the master of ceremonies uttered the words “NIHR Nottingham…” and we all cheered, and took the long walk to the stage to get the award presented by Peter Homa. It was such a buzz! The team had worked so hard together over the last 5 years to develop and trial C2Hear, showing lots of benefits for users of hearing aids. So it was wonderful to receive this award for our research and clinical efforts.
As for the science…hearing loss is a widespread long-term condition that affects one in six of the UK population – that’s around 11 million people. Although hearing aids are the main way to manage hearing loss, only 1 in 3 people has hearing aids, and many struggle to use them
C2Hear is a multimedia ‘how to’ programme that aims to help people with hearing aids to better understand how their hearing aids work and to use them successfully. C2Hear is a series of short multimedia, interactive videos that’s shows videos clips, photos, cartoons and patient testimonials to demonstrate how to use hearing aids and to overcome challenges faced when communicating with other people. Part of the uniqueness of C2Hear is that it was developed with help and input from over 35 hearing aid users, to make sure that C2Hear met the needs of the end-user.
A large randomised controlled trial showed that C2Hear improved knowledge of hearing aids and hearing aid handling skills, and increased hearing aid use in those that did not wear them all the time. Patients rated the C2Hear videos as highly useful, scoring 9/10, and said they were enjoyable, improved confidence and were preferable to written information. Many people watched the videos several times.
So where to next? Since the original trial, C2Hear has been made available to audiologists and patients primarily through C2Hear Online. This has been freely available over the last year and has had over 17000 views from across the world, with about 25% from North America. We are currently developing C2Hear for Americanised English as they are to be used in one of the largest studies looking at hearing over time. We are also translating into Chinese for use in China, and closer to home, UK audiology departments are using C2Hear with their patients. Finally, we recently received another Research for Patient Benefit grant (£150K) to personalise C2Hear to meet the needs of individual patients.
With ‘over the counter’ hearing devices on the way in, it is important that high-quality information on hearing aids, their benefits and how to maximise communication is available. Our overall aim is to empower people, help them meet their expectations and ensure that people with hearing loss stay connected in the wider world.
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