Top Sector Life Sciences & Health (LSH) entails a broad scope of disciplines, from pharmaceuticals to medical technology and from healthcare infrastructure to vaccination. To realise its mission – vital citizens in a healthy economy - the Top Sector builds on the strengths of the Dutch LSH sector to address the biggest societal challenges in prevention, cure and care. By funding multidisciplinary public-private partnerships (PPPs) the Top Sector aims to facilitate innovation. Here we give an overview of  a number of funded R&D projects by Top Sector LSH. The page is updated continuously.

HEAR-aware: Supporting hearing-health in adults not ready for a hearing aid

A Hearing-E-health tool for Adults who are not Ready for a hearing aid: Facilitating self-management by increasing awareness of hearing and coping strategies (HEAR-aware)

In this project, the HEAR-aware smartphone-app will be developed as an e-health tool to improve self-management of hearing-health in adults with hearing problems who do not feel ready for a hearing aid (HA). The project combines the strengths of academic partner Amsterdam UMC (Ear & Hearing) and two private partners in hearing care: Schoonenberg HoorSupport and parent company Sonova.

Roughly one-third of adults 50+ have a significant hearing impairment (HI). However, an alarming two-thirds of them do not use HAs. Untreated HI exerts a high burden on society because of consequences like increased loneliness, depressive symptoms, work-related fatigue, falls, and cognitive decline. Furthermore, general societal participation and workforce-participation are hampered and health care use is elevated. Key reasons for non-uptake of HAs are low self-reported hearing disability (related to low awareness), low readiness to act, high perception of stigma, and low expectations of HA-benefit. Alternatives to HAs are scarce. Solutions like HEAR-aware are thus undeniably needed.

HEAR-aware aims to meet the currently unserved needs of adults who experience hearing difficulties and want help, but feel unready for a HA. Real-time measurements of daily listening experiences and readiness to act will be captured via the app using the innovative method of Ecological Momentary Assessment. By subsequently tuning the app’s supportive content to this input, the tool will be tailored to the user. Its content will partly stem from HoorSupport®, an existing support program for HA-users.

In the developmental stage, the consortium will collaborate with users and an app-development company to develop three successive app-prototypes (I,II,III). User-needs assessments are performed (Study 1) and the full developmental stage will be described (Study 2). Finally, prototype III’s (cost-)effectiveness will be examined in a randomized controlled trial (Study 3). Data on how to improve the app and implement it in clinical dispensing practice are collected.