The WHO-DAS II: Measuring Outcomes of Hearing Aid Intervention for Adults

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The World Health Organization's Disability Assessment Scale II (WHO-DAS II) is a generic health-status instrument that provides six domain scores and a total, aggregate score. Two of the domain scores, communication and participation, and the total score, have good validity, internal-consistency reliability, and test-retest stability in individuals with adult-onset hearing loss. As such, these two domain scores and the total WHO-DAS II score may be useful as generic outcome measures to assess the effectiveness of hearing aid intervention for this population. Before the use of the WHO-DAS II in hearing aid clinical trials, however, the responsiveness of the instrument and the short- and long-term outcomes to hearing aid intervention had to be determined. Responsiveness and outcomes were assessed in 380 veterans (approximately half received hearing aids and half served as controls) by examining group differences, effect-size estimates, and individual differences as a function of hearing aid intervention. For comparison, data also were obtained on two disease-specific measures, the APHAB and the HHIE. The WHO-DAS II communication domain and total scores were sufficiently responsive to hearing aid intervention for use in future studies in which group differences are to be detected. The WHO-DAS II participation domain was not sufficiently responsive to hearing aid intervention. The APHAB and HHIE, both disease-specific measures, were more sensitive to hearing aid intervention than the generic measure. The short- and long-term outcomes of hearing aid intervention were also examined in the present study. Group outcomes for hearing aid intervention can be expected to be stable for at least 6 months when measured by WHO-DAS II total score and for at least 12 months when measured by the WHO-DAS II communication domain scores. Effect-size estimates and examination of the number of individuals exhibiting change scores exceeding 90% critical differences for true changes in scores indicate that for clinical applications, disease-specific instruments are more useful than the WHO-DAS II. The findings of this study support the use of the WHO-DAS II as a generic measure in hearing aid trials research so as to allow for comparisons of health-status outcomes across different diseases or disorders.

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Trends in Amplification, v. 9, issue 3, p. 127-143