UCL Ear Institute


A longitudinal comparison of outcomes for hearing-impaired children with either bilateral hearing aids or bilateral cochlear implants

Photo Credit: Philip Meech/ Action on Hearing Loss…

It can be difficult for parents and clinicians to decide whether a hearing-impaired child should receive cochlear implants or acoustic hearing aids. The decision is important because it is likely to affect a child's functioning at home and in school.

We are conducting a study to compare outcomes for children with two cochlear implants and children with two acoustic hearing aids. We are measuring children's listening and language skills. We will use the data to calculate, for a newly-diagnosed child with a certain degree of hearing impairment, the probability that the child would show better outcomes with cochlear implants rather than acoustic hearing aids. The study is longitudinal. Children are assessed when they join the study (aged 3-6 years) and again a year later. The results will help us to establish whether the balance of advantage between cochlear implants and hearing aids is stable over time.

Similar studies were conducted several years ago with children who used only one implant. The results of our study will provide up-to-date information that will be useful to parents, clinicians, and policy makers. The study is funded by Action on Hearing Loss and is being conducted by Rosie Lovett (UCL), Debi Vickers (UCL), and Quentin Summerfield (University of York).


The project started in March 2010. We have set up a new laboratory and completed pilot studies with children with normal and impaired hearing.

Seventy families are taking part in the main study. All families have completed the first set of assessments and we are writing research papers to describe the results. At the same time, families are coming to UCL to complete the second set of assessments.

Thank you to all of the families who are taking part in this study. The study could not happen without you and we are incredibly grateful!


  • Vickers D., Summerfield Q., Lovett, R. (2015) Candidacy criteria for paediatric bilateral cochlear implantation in the United Kingdom. Cochlear Implants International 16: S48-9
  • Lovett, R., Vickers D., Summerfield, Q. (2015) Which Children Should be Considered Candidates for Bilateral Cochlear Implantation? Ear and Hearing 36 (1), 14-23
  • Lovett, R., Summerfield, Q., and Vickers, D. (2013) Test-retest reliability of the Toy Discrimination Test with a masker of noise or babble in children with hearing impairment. Int J Audiol , 52 (6) 377 - 384.

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