The effectiveness of a vocational enablement protocol for employees with hearing difficulties: Results of a randomized controlled trial

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The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a vocational enablement protocol (VEP) on need for recovery (NFR) after work as compared with usual care for employees with hearing difficulties. In a randomized controlled trial design, 136 employees with hearing impairment were randomly assigned to either the VEP or the control group. VEP is a multidisciplinary program integrating audiological and occupational care for individuals experiencing difficulties in the workplace due to hearing loss. The primary outcome measure was NFR. Secondary outcome measures were communication strategy subscales (e.g., self-acceptance and maladaptive behavior), distress, and self-efficacy. Data were collected using questionnaires at baseline and at 3, 6, 9, and 12 months follow-up. No significant difference over the complete follow-up period was found between the intervention and control group for NFR. However, we observed a significant difference for one of the secondary outcomes after 12 months. "Self-acceptance" increased significantly in the VEP group, compared with the controls. The mean difference between the two groups was small, being only 0.24 (95% CI [0.04, 0.44]) on a scale of 1 to 5. The results do not support the use of VEP if the aim is to reduce NFR after work at 12 months follow-up. It may be that NFR does not adequately capture what is covered in the VEP. Although marginal, the effect on self-acceptance was significant. This is encouraging given that positive effects on self-acceptance have rarely been shown for audiological rehabilitation programs. Suggestions for further improvement of the VEP are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Hearing
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Communication
  • Hearing loss
  • Need for recovery
  • Personal adjustment
  • Randomized controlled trial
  • Self-acceptance
  • Vocational rehabilitation
  • Workers

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