The world’s first study on the best treatment options for adults living with severe hearing loss has been launched in the UK.
Severe hearing loss affects over 1 million people in the UK. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that by 2050, nearly 2.5 billion people worldwide will experience some degree of hearing loss and that at least 700 million will need hearing rehabilitation. If left untreated, hearing loss can negatively affect education, employment and quality of life and increases the risk of dementia and cognitive decline.
Now, researchers at the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Center and the University of Nottingham are launching a new study, sponsored by the University of Nottingham, that will inform the most effective treatment for people with severe hearing loss in the world (those with hearing loss greater than 65 dBHL).
In collaboration with UK hospitals, the Nottingham-based research team led by Dr PÃ¡draig Kitterick and Professor Doug Hartley, who are co-lead investigators of the COACH study (comparing cochlear implantation and hearing aids in adults with severe hearing loss), will aim to find out what is best for this group of patients – hearing aids or a cochlear implant.
COACH is the first global study set up to answer this question and could change the way patients are treated in the UK and around the world.
The group of patients included in this groundbreaking research is one whose hearing test results and speech comprehension scores fall just outside the range where they would be eligible to receive a cochlear implant on the NHS.
Dr PÃ¡draig Kitterick, Head of Audiological Sciences, National Acoustic Laboratories, Sydney, Australia, Co-Chief Co-Investigator of the COACH Study said:
âThe COACH trial is a landmark research study in the field of hearing loss and it will address an important question about who may benefit from cochlear implants. We are delighted to have secured
investment to enable the NHS to conduct this important clinical trial, which will be led by a leading team of academics, clinicians and scientists. But more importantly, it was designed and developed with patients living with severe hearing loss.
The trial will bring together the research expertise of the University of Nottingham and the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, supported by the world-class research infrastructure of the NIHR Nottingham Biomedical Research Center. This is a great example of the UK and our National Health Service being at the forefront of conducting clinical trials to improve the lives of people with hearing loss both here at home and around the world.
The costs of the trial are funded by Cochlear Ltd, a global manufacturer of implantable hearing devices. The company is not involved in carrying out the trial, which will be independently led by doctors and audiologists from the NHS, as well as researchers from the Nottingham BRC and the University of Nottingham.
Professor Gerard O’Donoghue, consulting ENT surgeon at Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust, one of the nine NHS hospitals participating in the study, said:
âWe are delighted to be working with Cochlear, a world leader in biomedical technology, to address issues of great clinical importance in the field of cochlear implantation. “
The involvement of the public and the patients is a key element of this trial. The research was designed in collaboration with a public member of the research team who recently received a cochlear implant.
Sarah Chapman, a member of the hearing-impaired public who works alongside the testing team for the COACH trial, said:
âThe COACH trial is so important because we don’t know how hearing aids and cochlear implants stack up for people with severe hearing loss just above the current eligibility criteria for implants.
âThis trial, which is shaped by people with severe hearing loss working alongside researchers, will provide evidence to fill this important knowledge gap. Instead of the best guesses, we’ll have the best evidence to inform decisions about treating severe hearing loss.
A group of research partner patients will advise researchers throughout the trial on aspects such as when and how to approach people who might want to participate and what kind of information people will need and want to hear. before participating.
Patients using the audiology services of the Nottingham University Hospitals NHS Trust are among those who will be offered the chance to participate in the study. Nottingham is one of nine participating NHS Trusts in England and Wales, and the others are:
- Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
- Cardiff and Vale University Health Council
- Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
- University of Manchester NHS Foundation Trust
- St George’s Hospital NHS Trust
- University College London NHS Foundation Trust
- Birmingham University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Participants can learn more about the trial and how to participate by visiting the trial website: www.coachtrial.ac.uk. The website home page includes a recruiting video that explains how they can get involved.