Feasibility of the HEAR-aware App for Hearing Loss Self-Management: A Nonrandomized Intervention Study to Examine Intervention Acceptability and the Stages-of-Change Concept

Marieke Pronk, Vanessa Feenstra-Kikken, Cas Smits, Jana Besser, Birgit I. Lissenberg-Witte, Conny Polleunis, Barbra H.B. Timmer, Sophia E. Kramer

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Objectives: The HEAR-aware project targets adults ≥50 years who were recently diagnosed with hearing loss and declined hearing aids, but were open for support via a smartphone app on different target behaviors (TBs). The HEAR-aware app, based on Ecological Momentary Assessment and Ecological Momentary Intervention (EMA, EMI), contains educational materials ("snippets") tailored partly to the user's experienced listening situations. The app aims to increase adults' TB-specific readiness to take action on hearing problems. The present study focused on examining feasibility regarding three novel aspects: (1) the app's acceptability, mainly regarding its EMA and EMI elements (compliance, usability, usefulness, satisfaction), (2) psychometric properties of 10 new TB-specific stages-of-change (SoC) measures (test-retest reliability, construct validity), and (3) the potential of tailoring snippets on a person's SoC. Design: A nonrandomized intervention study including four measurements with 2-week intervals (T0-T3). (1) The intervention period lasted 4 weeks. App usage data were collected throughout (T1-T3). Usability, usefulness, and satisfaction were measured at T3 (n = 26). (2) Reliability concerned T0 and T1 data, in between which no intervention occurred. Intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated (n = 29). Construct validity was examined by calculating correlations between the different TB-specific scales (at T0), and also between each of them and self-reported hearing disability (n = 29). (3) Person-tailoring by SoC was examined using T0 and T1 data. Linear mixed models were applied to test whether users rated snippets corresponding to their SoC as more interesting and useful than noncorresponding snippets (n = 25). Results: (1) The percentage of participants that complied with the intended usage varied across the five predefined compliance criteria (lowest: 8%; highest: 85%). Median snippet satisfaction scores were reasonably positive (3.5 to 4.0 of 5). Usability was good (System Usability Score, mean = 72.4, SD = 14.3) and usefulness satisfactory (Intrinsic Motivation Inventory, mean = 4.4, SD = 1.4), but showed large variance. (2) The 10 TB-specific scales showed fair-to-excellent reliabilities (range ICCs = 0.51 to 0.80). Correlations between the TB-specific scales ranged between -0.17 (p > 0.05) and 0.74 (p < 0.001), supporting only partly overlap between their underlying constructs. Only the correlation between TB-specific readiness for hearing aid uptake and self-reported hearing disability was significant. (3) Correspondence of a snippet's SoC with the person's SoC significantly related to "interesting" ratings (p = 0.006). Unexpectedly, for snippets with a lower SoC than the participant's, further deviation of the snippet's SoC from the participant's SoC, increased the participant's interest in the snippet. The relationship with "usefulness" was borderline significant. Conclusions: (1) Overall usability, usefulness, and satisfaction scores indicated sufficient app acceptability. The high variance and fairly low compliance showed room for improving the app's EMA/EMI parts for part of the participants. (2) The 10 new TB-specific SoC measures showed sufficient reliability, supporting that they measured different types of readiness to take action on hearing problems (construct validity). (3) The unexpected findings regarding tailoring educational app materials to individuals' SoC deserve further study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)186-197
Number of pages12
JournalEar and hearing
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • Adults
  • E-health
  • Ecological Momentary Assessment
  • Ecological momentary intervention
  • Hearing loss
  • Intervention
  • Self-management
  • Smartphone app
  • Stages-of-change

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