September 22, 2022
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed revisions to its guide [PDF] on the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising is now seeking public comments through September 26.
In its guide, the FTC provides several examples of what constitutes an expert endorsement. In the audiology context, the FTC proposed that
“an endorser of a hearing aid is simply referred to as ‘‘Doctor’’ during the course of an advertisement. The ad likely implies that the endorser is a medical doctor with substantial experience in the area of hearing. If the endorser is not a medical doctor with substantial experience in audiology, the endorsement would likely be deceptive. A non-medical ‘‘doctor’’ (e.g., an individual with a Ph.D. in audiology) or a physician without substantial experience in the area of hearing might be able to endorse the product, but at minimum, the advertisement must clearly disclose the nature and limits of the endorser’s expertise.”
ASHA supports the proposed text stating that 1) audiologists have the expertise to endorse a hearing aid and 2) all professionals should accurately represent themselves in public venues like a commercial. It would be appropriate for an audiologist to frame their education and training as a Doctor of Audiology and highlight audiology as the health care profession focused exclusively on hearing and balance.
ASHA maintains that hearing loss is best addressed by an audiologist practicing as a health care professional who provides patient-centered care in the prevention, identification, diagnosis, and evidence-based treatment of hearing, balance, and other auditory disorders for people of all ages. Without the professional support of an audiologist, individuals may not benefit from the full scope of technological support, holistic hearing health care, and audiologic rehabilitation that many with hearing loss require. ASHA will continue to monitor the FTC’s progress and provide updates as they occur.
Contact Bill Knudsen, ASHA’s director of education policy, at email@example.com.