Can hearing dogs provide measurable benefit for individuals with severe or profound hearing loss?
Stuttard and colleagues (2021) examined the effects on mental well-being, anxiety, depression, functional impairments, and hearing-related difficulties for adults with either severe or profound hearing loss after having had a hearing support dog for six months. They also evaluated the cost-effectiveness of the program related to quality-adjusted life years.
Study participants were randomized to either receive a hearing dog or to a waitlist group. Statistical analyses generally found significant differences between study groups across the majority of test measures with better outcomes being reported by those who received a hearing dog. Effect sizes were reported to be small to medium.
Study results also suggested that the hearing dog program was cost effective when the expenses were covered the charity doing the study (Hearing Dogs for Deaf People), but not when the cost of providing the hearing dog was covered by the public health-care system (National Health Service).
Readers are referred to the full text of the article for additional details regarding this study.