Cochlear implant aesthetics and its impact on stigma, social interaction, and quality of life: a mixed-methods study protocol


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BMJ open. 2022 Mar 23;12(3):e058406. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2021-058406.


INTRODUCTION: Awareness of the benefits of cochlear implants is low and barriers such as fear of surgery and ongoing rehabilitation have been noted. The perceived stigma associated with hearing loss also plays a key role, with many adults not wanting to look old or be identified as disabled. Indeed, a cochlear implant makes deafness visible. New technologies have led to a smaller external profile for some types of cochlear implants, but qualitative assessments of the benefits have not been explored. This study will examine the aesthetics and cosmetics of cochlear implants, and their impact on perceived stigma, social interactions, communication, and quality of life. Particular emphasis will be placed on reviewing fully implantable device concepts. A secondary goal is to understand which research techniques are best suited and most appealing to cochlear implant recipients, to help inform future study design and data collection methods.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This study uses a mixed methods design. Three sets of data will be collected from each participant with an expected sample size of 10-15 participants to allow for data saturation of the themes discussed. Each participant will complete a demographic questionnaire, a quick survey (a short, concise questionnaire on a topic of familiarity and research preference), and a semi-structured interview. Data from the questionnaire and rapid survey will be analyzed using descriptive statistics. The interviews will be transcribed and analyzed thematically. All participants will be adults with more than one year of experience using cochlear implants.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: This study has received ethics approval from Macquarie University (HREC: 520211056232432) and meets the requirements set forth in the National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research. Study results will be widely disseminated through peer-reviewed international journal articles, public and academic presentations, plain language summaries for participants, and a summary for the project funder. This work was supported by Cochlear Limited (Cochlear Ltd). The funder will have no role in the conduct or reporting of the study.

PMID:35321898 | DOI:10.1136/bmjopen-2021-058406

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