Announcing the winners of the 2021 Ida Research Grant

By Judith Vonberg

In 2021, the Ida Institute is funding three ambitious and timely research projects on hearing loss and rehabilitation spanning three continents.

The winners of this year’s Research Grant will be studying the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on tinnitus perception, the efficacy of Ida’s online Living Well tool, and the value of using an Ida Institute pediatric counseling tool in NHS clinics.

Tinnitus healthcare after Covid-19

Professor Raj Shekhawat of Flinders University, Australia, began his research into the impact of the pandemic on tinnitus in 2020. Nearly a third of those who responded to his online survey said their tinnitus had worsened, with stress, anxiety, a changed soundscape, and a lack of distractions named as key contributing factors.

“This grant will enable us to roll the survey out further and reach a much wider population,” said Professor Shekhawat, who is leading an international team of researchers on the Ida-funded project. “The idea is to get data from as wide a community as possible.”

The survey will be followed up by interviews and focus groups to capture a more detailed picture of the impacts.

“This phase will be very valuable in getting clear themes about the needs of the patient community post-Covid-19 and their vision for tinnitus healthcare,” said Professor Shekhawat.

Practical insights about how that care should look in the future will be gained through the second part of the study, which will assess the value of using the Ida Institute’s tinnitus counseling tools in clinical practice in Australia and the UK.

The audiogram for children

My Hearing Explained for Children is a conversation guide launched by the Ida Institute in 2020 to help pediatric clinicians explain audiogram results in everyday language.

Dr Jacqueline Young, Clinical Scientist at the University Hospitals Southampton NHS Trust, UK, is lead researcher on the first project to study the efficacy of this tool.

“We are interested in involving children in clinical discussion, so that audiologists can provide information to suit their needs and tailored to their understanding of their condition,” said Dr Young. “We are keen to see if this tool allows this to be achieved in a time-efficient way that is satisfactory for children, families, and clinicians.”

Several Ida counseling tools for teenagers are already in use in the NHS Audiology Department at Southampton, but Dr Young’s interest was piqued by My Hearing Explained, which she sees as a very flexible tool.

“It should be fairly quick to administer, and it seems suitable for younger children as well as teenagers both with and without hearing aids.”

Impact of Ida counseling tool Living Well

A team of researchers in Athens is studying the efficacy of the online tool Living Well with first-time users of hearing aids being treated at the first public audiology clinic providing hearing aid fitting services in Greece. The inclusion of a control group will ensure any specific impacts of the tool can be identified.

Evgenia Vassou, who is leading the research project, hopes the study will lay the groundwork for further implementation of Ida tools in clinical practice across Greece and provide an evidence base for the continuing development of public audiology services.

Vassou is particularly interested in Living Well due to the tool’s adaptability.

“It can be used from the first appointment throughout the whole period monitoring a patient with hearing loss,” she said. “It serves as a dynamic tool, which has the ability to adapt according to the different communication situations and needs of the hearing impaired person.”

Each year, the Ida Institute awards up to 10,000 USD to three projects that will strengthen the evidence base for integrating person-centered care into hearing healthcare, and provide critical information about the efficacy of Ida methods and tools, helping to guide our future development and innovation processes.

This year’s projects will be completed by September 2022. For more information about previously funded projects, visit our Research Grant page.

Image (left to right): Professor Raj Shekhawat, Evgenia Vassou, Dr Jacqueline Young