March 3, 2018, by Emma Rayner

Breaking the silence on World Hearing Day

On World Hearing Day 2018, Dr Melanie Ferguson, from the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre, shines a light on the world-leading research taking place here in the field of mild to moderate hearing loss. The hearing experts are planning to launch their own regular blog this Spring to spread the word about their life-changing work and how people can get involved in the many areas of hearing research carried out in Nottingham.

“It may be hard to believe but around 11 million people in the UK have some degree of hearing loss – that’s as many as one in six people. Despite the problem being so common, the effects of hearing loss are not widely known amongst the general public. Also people may not be aware of the help available and the progress being made in the field of hearing research and clinical audiology.

Here is a cool short video we’ve made to mark World Hearing Day that summarises the issues in mild to moderate hearing loss.

Breaking the Silence – Hearing Loss on Biteable.

So, who are we, what do we do and why are we planning a monthly blog on our research?

We are a vibrant and enthusiastic team who come from a variety of backgrounds including hearing science, clinical audiology, psychology, and sociology. This means our research includes views from many different clinical and academic disciplines.

Wasim Hussein, Helen Henshaw, Krysta Siliris, Eithne Heffernan, Mel Ferguson, David Maidment, Rachel Gomez, Yasmin Ali

But equally as important is that we always have people who have hearing loss and members of the public on our research teams – we call this public and patient involvement (PPI). Their role in our research is not only highly useful, it is essential. It means that we can build our research around their personal stories, lived experiences, insights and views. This means we can ensure that our research is relevant to the millions of people living with hearing loss on a daily basis. We even have adorable ‘hearing dogs’ attend our research meetings!

Veronica, Claire and Julia, with the adorable Logan and Jessie, and m2Hear researchers David Maidment and Rachel Gomez.

Veronica, PPI representative on the m2Hear study who has hearing loss and wears hearing aids, says: “I have been involved right from the concept to the finished article, and the great thing is I’ve been treated as an equal. My views and thoughts have been listened to and taken into account. I see and hear words and ideas incorporated into the project which are mine. I am so impressed by the huge amount of work the researchers have undertaken in order to make this project what it is and I wish them great success with it.”

Julia, another PPI representative on the same study who has a partner with hearing loss, says: “I have found this project to be exciting, challenging, engaging and rewarding. At every stage of the development process, we have worked collaboratively to exchange ideas and opinions in whole group contexts where all views have been carefully listened to, respected and addressed. The process has been robust and undertaken with integrity, always with a sharp focus upon the target audience, purpose and inclusivity. It has been a privilege to be involved in the shaping of this innovative resource.”

What do we do?

My team’s research within the NIHR Nottingham BRC focuses on adults with mild to moderate hearing loss. We work to develop ways to improve the lives of these adults as well as their family and friends.

Over the coming months we will describe in more detail what we do and what our research findings are. In the meantime, here is a short video of what the users say about a project that aims to help people to learn more about the effects of hearing loss and how hearing aids can help.

The link to the C2Hear Online multimedia videos can be found here.

Why a blog on our research?

From talking to our PPI colleagues and people who take part in our studies, we know they want to hear more about what we do and how our research helps others. Research findings take a long time to get published and are often appear only in specialist research journals, which are often not available to the public. And if they are freely available to everyone, the scientific language is written for other researchers and not for the public.

So we decided it was time that we made hearing loss and our research findings more accessible and visible to the public. We are really excited by setting up a monthly blog of our own which we hope to launch very soon.

By spreading the word more widely about what we do in our research, we aim to highlight that mild to moderate hearing loss matters to the millions of people in the UK and globally who experience it.”

Dr Mel Ferguson, Research Lead, Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss, NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Centre.

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