Group aural rehabilitation (AR) programs are a powerful support mechanism for people with hearing loss.
A group session typically provides several activities including information sharing, communication strategies training, and group problem solving. By attending a group program, people with hearing loss can meet individuals who have experienced many of the same challenges and issues as themselves. This helps them realize that they are not alone, develop stronger coping mechanisms, and become more assertive.
Studies show that people who participate in group AR experience a significant improvement in hearing loss–related quality of life. From the clinician’s point of view, group AR programs represent a number of advantages. For example, they allow you to provide emotional support as well as information and ideas for managing hearing loss in daily life to several clients at a time.
People who participate in a group AR program are likely to be more positive about their hearing aids. Research indicates that patient education through participation in a group program results in fewer returns and follow-up appointments.
Groups are also an opportunity to increase cost-efficiency. A cost-utility analysis conducted among US veterans showed that the participants who were offered group sessions after being fitted with hearing aids exhibited a statistically significant improvement of quality of life, and that hearing aid fitting combined with group sessions was a far more cost-efficient treatment than hearing aid fitting alone.
Finally, groups provide a unique opportunity for you to include communication partners in the rehabilitation process by inviting them to attend the sessions. Communication partners play an important role in supporting the person with hearing loss in daily life and helping them accept treatment recommendations. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Louisville revealed that individuals who participated in group sessions along with a communication partner demonstrated significantly more benefit on a measure of hearing loss-related quality of life than individuals who participated alone.