Is there a link between the germs in our gut and our hearing?

Associate Professor Srdjan Vlajkovic: The gut-inner ear axis.  A novel approach to demonstrate an important and relevant link between these two organ systems.

It is conceivable that germs in our gut communicate with our brain and sensory systems and alter their function. Whilst the gut-brain axis has already been established in the scientific literature, the links between the gut and the inner ear are still speculative. Our key hypothesis is that the healthy gut is required for the maintenance of inner ear function, whilst the disease of the gastrointestinal system can induce chronic inflammation in the inner ear and thus contribute to hearing loss. This study will present a novel approach to demonstrate an important and relevant link between these two organ systems

Chat-bot therapy. Can it help with the management of tinnitus?

Dr Michael Maslin: Internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy in tinnitus sufferers.

Tinnitus is commonly described as a ringing in the ears. Tinnitus is common, and can increase the risk of anxiety and depression. Research has demonstrated that challenging negative thoughts using cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) delivered through the internet can help sufferers better manage their tinnitus.  As the need for mental health services surpasses the availability, people in distress can reach out online to “chatbots” designed to provide CBT. This project aims to investigate the benefit of human support through video conferencing in addition to the recently developed engaging conversational agent or chatbot called “Tinnibot”.

Exploring the efficacy of community-based hearing services for older Māori

Dr Ravi Reddy:  An exploratory study to assess the efficacy and effectiveness of a community-focused hearing-care service delivery model for older Māori.

There is limited information related to hearing-health outcomes about Māori communities in New Zealand. The aim of this research is to assess the benefits, feasibility, acceptability and appropriateness of a community-focused hearing-care services for older (>50yrs) Māori. The intended outcome is to provide evidence-based findings to support decision-making about service delivery strategies and approaches that would improve or enhance uptake and effectiveness of hearing-care services for Māori communities.

Testing the teachers. What do they know about children with hearing loss?

Associate Professor Holly Teagle: Teachers’ knowledge and perceptions on the speech, language and learning abilities of children with hearing loss.

Several factors influence the inclusion of children with mild to severe hearing loss at mainstreamed school environments and their overall academic outcomes. Questionnaire and focus group interview will be used to gain better understanding of teachers’ knowledge, perception, confidence, challenges and barriers in educating children with hearing loss (CWHL) who have speech and language difficulties. Teachers may have not received any training to work with CWHL and may have low confidence in teaching this population. This highlight the need to have a comprehensive support system for teachers and CWHL in order to manage the gap in teachers’ knowledge and promote successful inclusion for children.