Providing Hearing Assistance to Veterans in the Emergency Department: A Qualitative Study

Victoria Vaughan Dickson, Jan Blustein, Barbara Weinstein, Keith Goldfeld, Kate Radcliffe, Madeleine Burlingame, Corita R. Grudzen, Scott E. Sherman, Jessica Smilowitz, Joshua Chodosh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction: Effective communication is essential to good health care, and hearing loss disrupts patient-provider communication. For the more than 2 million veterans with severe hearing loss, communication is particularly challenging in noisy health care environments such as emergency departments. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe patient and provider perspectives of feasibility and potential benefit of providing a hearing assistance device, a personal amplifier, during visits to an emergency department in an urban setting affiliated with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Methods: This qualitative descriptive study was conducted in parallel with a randomized controlled study. We completed a semistructured interview with 11 veterans and 10 health care providers to elicit their previous experiences with patient-provider communication in the ED setting and their perspectives on hearing screening and using the personal amplifier in the emergency department. Interview data were analyzed using content analysis and Atlas.ti V8.4 software (Scientific Software Development GmbH, Berlin, Germany). Results: The veteran sample (n = 11) had a mean age of 80.3 years (SD = 10.2). The provider sample included 7 nurses and 3 physicians. In the ED setting, hearing loss disrupts patient-provider communication. Screening for hearing loss in the emergency department was feasible except in urgent/emergent cases. The use of the personal amplifier made communication more effective and less effortful for both veterans and providers. Discussion: Providing the personal amplifier improved the ED experience for veterans and offers a promising intervention that could improve health care quality and safety for ED patient populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)266-277
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Emergency Nursing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2022


  • Emergency care
  • Emergency nursing
  • Hearing loss
  • Qualitative research
  • Veteran health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency


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