$2.3m to support innovation in hearing healthcare solutions for Australians

  • Researchers at Ear Science Institute Australia and their collaborators secured almost one-third of the $7.3m funding in the National Health and Medical Research Council’s Targeted Call for Research into Hearing Health.
  • This will fund three years of research into evidence-based hearing support services to improve listening, cognition, mental well-being and quality of life in adults with hearing loss.
  • Consumer voice and community involvement are embedded in all our research through the integration with Lions Hearing Clinic.

The Brain and Hearing research team at Ear Science and their collaborators have secured $2.3 million over three years, supporting research to understand and improve the hearing health journey of those seeking help for their hearing. The projects will develop new online interventions to address important factors like decision-making and mental well-being. The funding will be spread across four three-year projects to generate new knowledge and seek evidence-based clinical strategies to enable and empower people living with the challenges associated with their hearing, cognitive and mental health.

Associate Professor Melanie Ferguson from Curtin University, Dr Dona Jayakody, Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at UWA, and Dr Bec Bennett, Adjunct Senior Clinical Research Fellow at Curtin University, have leading roles in research projects focused on two significant areas of empowerment and mental health.

“Only one in three people who would benefit from hearing aids have them. We want to make it easier for people to make informed decisions and put themselves at the centre of their hearing healthcare. If people feel empowered during their hearing healthcare, they are more likely to have better outcomes with their chosen intervention, such as hearing aids or assistive listening devices,” Associate Professor Ferguson said.

Associate Professor Ferguson leads a project to empower Australian adults who are living with hearing loss to seek help and make informed choices about the full range of hearing healthcare options. The team includes Ear Science’s Dr Bec Bennett as a Chief investigator and Lize Coetzee as an Associate Investigator.

“When people choose Lions Hearing Clinic for their hearing, the care they receive is led by science. Each client has the opportunity to participate and contribute to world-leading clinically focused ear and hearing research to improve treatments for today and find cures for tomorrow,” said Lize Coetzee, Chief Operating Officer at Lions Hearing Clinic.

Dr Dona Jayakody, Senior Research Fellow at UWA, is a senior investigator on another project focusing on mental distress in people with hearing loss. The project team will use personal hearing amplification systems and simple psychological intervention to take a two-pronged approach.

“Hearing loss and mental health are often linked. Research has shown that hearing loss significantly burdens many aspects of life,” says Dr Jayakody.

Dr Bec Bennett is one of the lead investigators on a project headed by Dr Nerina Scarinci, Associate Professor at the University of Queensland. They aim to develop an innovative and contemporary education and support program to help adults with hearing loss, and their families, overcome everyday communication, social and emotional difficulties.

“We will develop an evidence-based education program for people living with hearing loss and their support network,” said Dr Bennett.

“Ear Science is a proud founding member of the Hearing Health Sector Alliance (HHSA), and along with the other 16 member organisations, we successfully lobbied the government to support hearing-related research – resulting in this Targeted Call for Research through the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). I am very pleased to see our organisation continues to be at the forefront of such life-changing research,” said Sandra Bellekom, CEO of Ear Science Institute Australia.

All four projects show significant collaboration among hearing researchers across Australia and internationally. Working alongside Ear Science are

  • Curtin University,
  • The University of Western Australia,
  • Macquarie University,
  • University of Queensland,
  • National Acoustic Laboratories,
  • Soundfair,
  • University of Sydney,
  • University of Melbourne,
  • Hearing Australia,
  • Flinders University,
  • Deakin University,
  • Better Hearing Australia-South Australia and Brisbane,
  • The George Institute for Global Health,
  • University of York UK,
  • University of Auckland,
  • Audiology Australia,
  • Nuheara and
  • Sonova AG.