Online Hearing Health Information

From the perspective of healthcare providers, health information refers to data that is related to the patient’s medical history, including symptoms, diagnosis, procedures, and outcomes. Patients and their family members tend to seek information about their health condition before, during, or after their consultation with healthcare providers. This may be to better understand their health conditions, to self-diagnose their conditions, to understand the treatment or management options, or to understand the prognosis. Often, the information generated online is not reliable and patients find it too complex to navigate through massive amount of information available. In addition to online health information, patients and family members are also exposed to various health materials (e.g., case history forms, diagnostic reports, Patient Education Materials [PEMs], and Patient-Reported Outcome Measures [PROMs]), which are primarily created by health care professionals and contain key information about specific health conditions. Literature suggests that even these health materials are not always easily accessible for patients and their family members, which leads to misunderstanding of information provided. This project has three goals. First, we aim to examine various aspects of health information including the quality, suitability, readability, understandability, actionability, content (including misinformation) of hearing health information using the Consumer Health Informatics (CHI) approach. In this line of research, we use various Natural Language Processing (NLP) approaches to analyze the large text corpus generated form online platforms. Second, we evaluate health information generated from health professionals for accessibility (e.g., readability and understandability) using the health literacy principles. Third, we aim to develop interventions to address misinformation of hearing health and also work on revising the health materials provided to improve accessibility.

This project touches on the research theme 1 (online user activities), theme 4 (new service delivery models), and theme 5 (synthesis of evidence). Following are the specific studies within this larger project

Mapping the Content of Online Hearing Health Information

Online health information is growing in a tremendous phase during the last decade. However, there is limited understanding of what this information constitutes as well as how relevant this if for people with hearing and balance disorders as well for their family members. In a series of studies, we have examined the content of hearing healthcare information. For example, we have examined content YouTube videos on hearing loss (Manchaiah et al., 2020 AJA), hearing aids (Manchaiah et al., 2020 JAAA) and infant hearing loss (Gunjawate et al., 2021 JCHI), newspaper information on hearing loss and hearing aids (Manchaiah et al., 2019 AJA), newspaper information and Facebook posts about tinnitus, information about tinnitus in Twitter (Ni et al., 2020 AJA), information about sudden sensorineural hearing loss in Reddit (Manchaiah et al, 2021 JLO). In addition, using a survey design, we have also examined the media use in people with hearing loss (Manchaiah et al., 2020 AJA) and Ménière’s disease (Manchaiah et al., 2020 JIAO). These studies help us understand what type of information patients and their family members are exposed and help address possible myths they may have during clinical consultations.

Study Lead: Vinaya Manchaiah

Accessibility of Hearing Healthcare Information and Interventions

Patient and their family members are exposed to various health information before, during and after the consultation with health professionals. The health information is key in their decision making as well as in engagement and adherence to recommendations made by health professionals that will have bearing towards their health outcomes. The health information has to be accessible in order for patients and family members to clearly understand them. For example, healthcare organizations such as the American Medical Association and National Institutes of Health recommend the readability of patient information material should be no higher than sixth-grade level. However, several studies in healthcare including our studies in hearing healthcare have demonstrated that hearing health information is often written at higher reading grade level and are very difficult for patients to understand. We have examined quality and readability of various sources of information including hearing disability self-reported questionnaires (Manchaiah et al., 2019 IJA), websites for tinnitus (Manchaiah et al., 2019 JAAA) and vestibular disorders YouTube (Felipe et al., 2020 JVD) and found the information to be written at higher reading grade level than recommended. Our recent literature review also highlight this problem in other areas of hearing healthcare (Manchaiah et al., 2020 AJA). We have also made an attempt to revise health information such as the Internet-intervention for tinnitus (Beukes et al., 2020 AJA) to lower the readability and to improve accessibility of hearing health information (Kelly-Campbell & Manchaiah, 2020 ASHA Perspectives).

Study Lead: Vinaya Manchaiah

Examination of Online Consumer Reviews to Better Understand Patient Perspectives

Online consumer reviews have become important source of health information. Patients and their family members often use these reviews in making their health decisions. In addition, patients (or consumers) also use this as a way to share their experiences with the healthcare products and services. We have examined online consumer reviews of hearing aids (Bennett et al., 2021 IJA; Manchaiah et al., AJA) from Hearing Tracker website, Direct-to-Consumer hearing device reviews from Amazon website (Manchaiah et al., 2019), and also reviews about hearing healthcare eservices from (Manchaiah et al., 2021 AJA) as well as LIWC (Manchaiah et al., 2021 AJA) using various Natural Language Processing (NLP) techniques (Manchaiah, 2021). These studies supplement the clinical studies in better understanding the patient experiences and help improve their experiences.

Study Lead: Vinaya Manchaiah

Brief Accuracy Nudge Interventions to Address Misinformation about Tinnitus

People with various chronic conditions including people with tinnitus often relay on social media information for their condition. Several studies have demonstrated that there is a lot of misinformation about tinnitus in social media platforms. However, the misinformation may not be evident for patients, and they might be using this information for making their health decisions. In the current study is to assess how people with and without tinnitus respond to online information regarding tinnitus. Following this, the study participants will be presented with a brief accuracy nudge interventions and their ability to identify misinformation will be further evaluated. This study has the potential to develop large-scale public health interventions for addressing misinformation about hearing healthcare.

Study Lead: Aniruddha Deshpande