Introduction

Severe or profound deafness is experienced by 1 in 100 adults/older people. If acquired in adulthood/old age, as is more common, it is very unlikely that medical intervention (e.g. cochlear implant, hearing aid) will be beneficial. Thus, the objective of any intervention is supporting adjustment to hearing loss and preventing the negative social, economic and health outcomes associated with hearing loss.

Whilst government recognises the importance of holistic care of this population, access to social care support from the public sector is extremely limited. Local Authority Sensory Impairment Teams offer advice and signpost to other sources of support, and short-term rehabilitation may be available.

Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is a charitable organisation which creates and supports partnerships between specially trained dogs and individuals with severe/profound hearing impairments. This study is a realist evaluation of these partnerships. It will examine the outcomes, costs, and user and service provider experiences. It will also investigate the interface between this intervention and support provided by statutory agencies. It comprises a randomised controlled trial, economic evaluation and nested qualitative evaluation. It will be the most robust evaluation of hearing dogs ever conducted and will also contribute to methodological debates on evaluating complex interventions.