Exploring the experiences of teenagers with cochlear implants

Watson, Victoria Kathryn (2015) Exploring the experiences of teenagers with cochlear implants University of Southampton, Engineering and the Environment, Doctoral Thesis , 189pp.


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Whilst much research has focused on the general health needs of adolescents, little is known about the specific needs of teenagers who wear cochlear implants. Thus it is important to widen the knowledge base regarding the experiences of this population, and to assist professionals to support this age group more effectively.

This qualitative study investigated teenage cochlear implant users’ perceptions of deafness, surgery, fitting of the device and life as a cochlear implant wearer in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of teenagers’ experiences of living with a cochlear implant by putting their perspectives at the heart of the research. This was achieved by working with the teenagers collaboratively throughout the research.

Phase one of the study involved engaging with a small group of teenagers with cochlear implants to develop a website that would allow them to share their experiences. In phase two, ten semi-structured interviews were undertaken and nine were analysed using template analysis. Some teenagers experienced great preoperative anxiety and significant post-operative pain. Anxiety and pain are physiologically linked so strategies for reducing their anxiety are discussed. There was also a mismatch between their expectations and the disappointing reality of adjusting to the device. Disconfirmation-expectancy theory suggests that expectations counselling may narrow this gap. However, over time they experienced significant functional and psychosocial benefits as a result of their lives being easier. Almost all described complex, flexible identities where they felt connections with both the hearing and deaf world. Theoretical models of deaf identity support this ‘bicultural’ state. However, the hearing world sometimes posed difficulties for them when the listening environment was challenging. By giving prominence to the teenagers’ voices this study has added new knowledge concerning their experience of surgery. The findings also more fully revealed the challenges of adjusting to the device and the impact of having a cochlear implant on the teenagers’ identities.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Organisations: University of Southampton, Human Sciences Group
ePrint ID: 386314
Date :
Date Event
April 2015Published
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2016 14:45
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2017 16:32
Further Information:Google Scholar
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/386314

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