J Am Acad Audiol 2006; 17(10): 763-773
DOI: 10.3766/jaaa.17.10.7
American Academy of Audiology. All rights reserved. (2006) American Academy of Audiology

The Occlusion Effect in Unilateral versus Bilateral Hearing Aids

Charlotte Thunberg Jespersen
Jennifer Groth
Jürgen Kiessling
Barbara Brenner
Ole Dyrlund Jensen
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Publication Date:
07 August 2020 (online)

The benefit of bilateral hearing aids is well documented, but many hearing-aid users still wear only one aid. It is plausible that the occlusion effect is part of the reason for some hearing-aid users not wearing both hearing aids. In this study we quantified the subjective occlusion effect by asking ten experienced users of bilateral hearing aids and a reference group of ten normal-hearing individuals to rate the naturalness of their own voice while reading a text sample aloud. The subjective occlusion effect was evaluated in the unilateral versus bilateral condition for a variety of vent designs in earmolds and in a custom hearing aid. The subjective occlusion effect was significantly higher for bilateral hearing aids with all vent designs with the exception of a non-occluding eartip option. The subjective occlusion effect was reduced with the more open vent designs in both the unilateral and bilateral conditions. Assuming that the occlusion effect is a barrier to bilateral hearing aid use, these results indicate that open-hearing-aid fittings can help promote the use of two aids.