oa South African Family Practice - Hearing loss within a marriage : perceptions of the spouse with normal hearing : original research
Objective : The objective of the study was to determine the perceptions of a spouse about the influence of his or her partner's hearing loss on their relationship as it may have an impact on aural rehabilitation.
Design : A descriptive survey design was utilised. A questionnaire, adapted from The Significant Other Scale for Hearing Disability was used for data collection.
Subjects : Through purposive sampling, 35 individuals who reported experiencing no hearing difficulties and who were married to a person with an acquired hearing loss contributed data for this study. These data were analysed using Stata® version 9.
Results : The majority of the participants identified a range of communication-related difficulties within their marriage, such as repeating themselves extensively in conversation with their hearing-impaired partners (97%), raising the volume of their voices (83%), and having to maintain face-to-face contact with their spouse (74%). These difficulties may have led to negative feelings within the marriage as during communication, 69% of participants reported feeling frustrated because of difficulties experienced in respect of their partner's hearing impairment. Participants reported that they had to accept a hearing impairment in their marriage. Seventy-one per cent of participants expressed concern for their hearing-impaired partners, and specifically with regard to fearing for their safety, e.g. when alarms or warning bells were not heard.
Conclusion : A partner's acquired hearing impairment may lead to the development of negative feelings within a marriage. Therefore, audiologists must be aware of the perceptions of spouses with normal hearing when providing aural rehabilitation to both the hearing-impaired individuals and their partners, and thereby preventing disharmony in the marriage, while ensuring effective service delivery.
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