Four motivational interviewing techniques to help increase hearing aid uptake

With these easy tips, you can help your patients examine their emotions about hearing aids and move toward change.

“Just where you are – that’s the place to start.”Pema Chodron

When it comes to hearing aids, one of the biggest challenges for patients is taking the leap to pursue amplification.

Many times, patients feel ambivalent about moving forward. For example, they feel like they may not need hearing aids, or wonder whether they can afford them. In this article, we will examine how motivational interviewing can help patients examine these mixed emotions around hearing aid uptake during their appointment.

Motivational interview techniques are effective in other areas of healthcare, and research shows they can be just as successful with hearing aids.1

Four interview techniques to use in your practice

Imagine you are talking with a friend or family member about a bothersome problem. This person is presented with both a challenge and an opportunity that you can help them explore. The same is true for your patients.

Here are techniques to consider:

  1. Listen – Keep the conversation centered on the patient. Focus on their specific needs and situation rather than just reciting hearing aid features or facts to them.

    Build a rapport with the patient and discover their motivation for coming into the clinic. Some sample questions: Why now and not last year? Where are their specific challenges and how do they affect their life? Getting a clear understanding of why this patient came to see you is key to moving forward.

  2. Empathize – Allow space for the patient to describe their personal experience and acknowledge the feelings it brings up. Motivational interviewing techniques are grounded in respect and curiosity, honoring patient autonomy and creating a natural process for change.

  3. Agree – Imagine you were in their shoes. Could you picture how that feels? Tell the patient that you understand why they might feel that way. Shift the momentum in the appointment to the patient. This builds trust and helps set up a collaborative partnership.

  4. Partner – Work collaboratively to find a solution. People pursue hearing aids because of specific, noticeable benefits in their daily life.

    For example, when your patient ‘Susan’ shares how frustrating and lonely it is for her when she can’t understand her friends at their monthly luncheon, help her to imagine how her life would be different if she could hear them better.

    You could ask, “Susan, what would it be like for you if you could hear and understand your friends? “How would that make you feel?” These types of question might help her visualize and move toward change.

Motivational interviewing is a form of patient empowerment. Through a combination of listening and directing, you can help your patients to realize their own struggles as well as the capacity for change. After exploring their motivation, shift to helping them imagine the solution.

Patients appreciate being listened to and when their motivation for change is uncovered, they are more likely to follow through with hearing aid uptake.

Not only that, but patients are more likely to have a positive outcome with hearing aid adoption. It’s a win for both clinicians and patients when motivation for change is fully explored and supported, leading to better hearing aid adoption and outcomes.

For further reading, here are some excellent articles:

  • David Citron, I. (2020). Motivational Interviewing in Audiology: How to Become an Appreciative Ally.
  • Ridgway, J., Hickson, L., & Lind, C. (2013). Self-determination theory: Motivation and hearing aid adoption. Journal of the Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology, 46.
  • Vestergaard Knudsen, L., Öberg, M., Nielsen, C., Naylor, G., & Kramer, S. E. (2010). Factors influencing help seeking, Hearing aid uptake, hearing aid use and satisfaction with hearing aids: A review of the literature. Trends in Amplification, 14(3), 127–154.


  1. Solheim, J., Gay, C., Lerdal, A., Hickson, L., & Kvaerner, K. J. (2018). An evaluation of motivational interviewing for increasing hearing aid use: A pilot study. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, 29(08), 696–705.