Objective/Hypothesis: Investigate potential problems in the daily life communication of cochlear implant (CI) patients due to the widespread use of face masks in public places during the COVID-19 pandemic. Study design: Prospective survey study. Methods: This study used an online questionnaire about the effects of face masks on daily life communication of adult CI users. The questionnaire consists of three parts: (a) A face mask questionnaire, (b) loneliness question (c) three subdomains of the Nijmegen Cochlear Implant Questionnaire to assess quality of life. The questionnaires were send out on October 20, 2020. Four hundred and seven adult CI users were invited to participate in the study. The survey inclusion was closed on November 5, 2020. The study setting was the Rotterdam Cochlear Implant Center, Erasmus MC, a tertiary referral center in The Netherlands. The loneliness question and Nijmegen Cochlear Implant Questionnaire were analyzed for possible differences between the current situation with masks and the situation before, when masks were not commonly used. Results: Two hundred and twenty one adult CI users (54% female, mean age 62 years) participated in the study. The face mask questionnaire showed that face masks cause considerable problems in daily life communication of 80% of the participants. Also, CI users tend to feel more lonely and all used subdomains of the Nijmegen Cochlear Implant Questionnaire worsened due to the use of face masks. Conclusion: The widespread use of face masks greatly complicates the daily life communication of CI users and reduces quality of life. Level of Evidence: 3.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge all participants of the research project. They also thank Anouk Heine for her help in putting the survey online.
© 2021 The Authors. Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Triological Society.