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Improving the lives of older adults with hearing loss: Developing a self-report measure of effortful listening to guide clinical practice

   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

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  Dr Antje Heinrich, Prof K Munro, Dr Rebecca Millman  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

Hearing loss is the most prevalent sensory deficit. In the UK, more than 10 million adults have hearing loss. Because it is often associated with old age and the size of the older population is growing, it is predicted that there will be more than 14 million people with hearing loss by 2030. In most cases of adult hearing loss, the sensory damage is permanent and primarily managed via the prescription and fitting of hearing aids. Despite the improvement afforded by hearing aids, there is at least one aspect of listening that hearing aids have a limited effect on improving, namely the effort required to achieve listening success i.e. listening effort. Listening effort is high when listening is challenging and cognitively demanding. This occurs in many situations including in connection with hearing loss. It is, therefore, surprising that so little importance has been attached to quantifying and reducing listening effort when adults with hearing loss are assessed and managed. A self-report questionnaire on listening effort might speed up assessment and outcome monitoring. However, no self-report questionnaire currently exists that explores the effort required to listen.

Our group, the Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness (ManCAD), is the premier UK centre for hearing loss research, education and service provision. We have a well-established track-record of improving the lives of individuals with hearing loss, and have over recent years published a number of high impact research studies on listening effort in internationally-leading journals. We now want to develop and validate a patient-focused measure of listening effort that will ensure a comprehensive assessment of hearing difficulty and quantify the benefit of treatment in a PhD project that will be conducted in three phases: (1) a review of the literature, (2) the creation of the new questionnaire, and (3) its validation.

Entry Requirements:

This PhD will suit you if you have a background in audiology, hearing science, psychology, neuroscience, medical/clinical science or related discipline. Ideally, you with have a first class undergraduate degree and a postgraduate qualification that included a research project e.g., MSc or MRes. Evidence of research output (e.g., peer-reviewed publication, newsletter article, conference presentation) would be advantageous.

The project is suitable if you require excellent research training, in a stimulating and active environment, in order to become an independent, international researcher. It will also be suitable to you if you are a health professional whose career aspirations involve a combination of research with clinical activities.

Good writing skills will be essential.

For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit www.internationalphd.manchester.ac.uk

How To Apply

 For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/). On the online application form select PhD Communication Disorders.

Please address any enquiries relating to this project to Dr Rebecca Millman.

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/

Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/fees/).


1. Hughes, S.E., Hutchings, H.A., Rapport, F.L., McMahon, C.M., & Boisvert, I. (2018). Social connectedness and perceived listening effort in adult cochlear implant users: A grounded theory to establish content validity for a new patient-reported outcome measure. Ear and Hearing
2. Heinrich, A., Mikkola, T.M., Polku, H., Törmäkangas, T., Viljanen, A. (in press). Hearing In Real Life Environments (HERE): Structure and reliability of a questionnaire on perceived hearing for older adults. Ear and Hearing
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