Is centre-based provision of hearing aids better than community-based provision? A cluster-randomized trial among adolescents in Bangladesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: In response to the need for hearing aids in low-income countries, an approach to provide hearing aids through trained community workers was developed. This study compares the effectiveness of the community-based approach with that of a centre-based approach. Methods: One hundred and forty adolescents (56% girls; 12–18 years; mean: 15 years) from eleven sub-districts participated in a cluster-randomized trial comparing a community-based service (n = 75) with a centre-based service (n = 65) in Bangladesh. The International Outcome Inventory for Hearing Aids (IOI-HA) was administered to the participants six weeks after fitting of a hearing aid, and its scores were analyzed by Mann–Whitney U-tests and an ordinal regression model. Results: The community-based approach performed as well as the centre-based approach on five out of seven outcome measures. The latter approach performed statistically significantly better on Residual participation restrictions (p = .007) and Impact on others (p = .012), but the effect sizes were small. Controlling for sex, age, hearing loss, place of living and proxy responses did not change the results. Conclusions: The community-based approach is a viable and effective option for hearing aid delivery in low-resourced settings. The approach needs to be adapted to particular contexts, and possible down-sides may need to be counteracted by special interventions.Implications for RehabilitationHearing aid use can contribute to improved activity, participation and quality of life among adolescents in low-income countries.Community-based approaches to delivering hearing aids can be viable and effective options to centre-based services.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology


  • centre-based service, community-based service, developing countries, Hearing aids, outcomes, service delivery
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)497-503
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology
Issue number6
Early online date2017 Jun 1
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Aug 18
Publication categoryResearch