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Clinical Challenges
November 2000

Digital Signal Processing Hearing Aids: Determining Need on an Individual Basis

Author Affiliations


Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2000;126(11):1397-1398. doi:10.1001/archotol.126.11.1397

Since 1996, the hearing aid industry has introduced a number of digital signal processing (DSP) hearing aids into the marketplace. By the end of this year, it is anticipated that there will be more than 20 commercially available models. However, the availability of these newer, more costly DSP hearing aids requires that we justify their value relative to the substantial increase in cost to both the hearing health care provider and the consumer. The technological advantages associated with DSP hearing aids are undeniable, including fitting flexibility and precision in signal manipulation (eg, multiple memories, channels, and microphones; noise-reduction and automatic feedback reduction capabilities; frequency shaping capacity; controllable compression characteristics; and time constants of input signals). However, the issue at hand is whether these advantages provide substantial, cost-effective benefit to patients by way of improved communication function and reduced psychosocial disability and/or handicap improvement.

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