Association of Hearing Impairment and Subsequent Driving Mobility in Older Adults

Hearing impairment (HI) is associated with driving safety (e.g., increased crashes and poor on-road driving performance). However, little is known about HI and driving mobility | The Gerontologist

Image source: Nicolas Alejandro - Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Image source: Nicolas Alejandro – Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Purpose of the Study: This study examined the longitudinal association of audiometric hearing with older adults’ driving mobility over 3 years.

Results: Individuals with moderate or greater HI performed poorly on the UFOV, indicating increased risk for adverse driving events (p < .001). No significant differences were found among older adults with varying levels of HI for driving mobility (p values > .05), including driving cessation rates (p = .38), across time.

Implications: Although prior research indicates older adults with HI may be at higher risk for crashes, they may not modify driving over time. Further exploration of this issue is required to optimize efforts to improve driving safety and mobility among older adults.

Full reference: Edwards, J.D. et al. (2017) Association of Hearing Impairment and Subsequent Driving Mobility in Older Adults. The Gerontologist. 57 (4)pp. 767-775. 

The Association between Hearing Loss, Postural Control, and Mobility in Older Adults

Degraded hearing in older adults has been associated with reduced postural control and higher risk of falls. Both hearing loss (HL) and falls have dramatic effects on older persons’ quality of life (QoL). A large body of research explored the comorbidity between the two domains | Journal of the American Academy of Audiology


Image source: Julita B.C. – Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Purpose: The aim of the current review is to describe the comorbidity between HL and objective measures of postural control, to offer potential mechanisms underlying this relationship, and to discuss the clinical implications of this comorbidity.


Results: Of 211 screened articles, 7 were included in the systematic review. A significant, positive association between HL and several objective measures of postural control was found in all seven studies, even after controlling for major covariates. Severity of hearing impairment was connected to higher prevalence of difficulties in walking and falls. Physiological, cognitive, and behavioral processes that may influence auditory system and postural control were suggested as potential explanations for the association between HL and postural control.

Conclusions: There is evidence for the independent relationship between HL and objective measures of postural control in the elderly. However, a more comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms underlying this relationship is yet to be elucidated. Concurrent diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of these two modalities may reduce falls and increase QoL in older adults.

Full reference: Agmon, M. et al. (2017) The Association between Hearing Loss, Postural Control, and Mobility in Older Adults: A Systematic Review. Journal of the American Academy of Audiology. Vol. 28 (no. 06) pp. 575-588

Social Support and Coping on Quality of Life Among Elderly With Age-Related Hearing Loss

The consequences of hearing loss hinder the everyday life of older adults and are associated with reduced well-being | American Journal of Audiology

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Image source: Andrea Squatrito – Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Aim: The research aim was to explore the influence of hearing problems, various coping strategies, and perceived social support on quality of life.

Results: Quality of life was predicted by perceived social support and the number of comorbid diseases (i.e., the physical, psychological, environmental, and social quality of life was better the greater the extent of perceived social support and poorer the more diseases from which the participants suffered).

Conclusions: Perceived social support may be a relevant factor to focus on in auditory rehabilitation programs, in particular, for participants who communicate little support in hearing-related situations and are, hence, at a relative disadvantage. The involvement of significant others in counseling could facilitate the everyday life for older adults with age-related hearing loss and their significant others

Full reference: Moser, S. et al. (2017) The Influence of Social Support and Coping on Quality of Life Among Elderly With Age-Related Hearing Loss. American Journal of Audiology. Vol. 26(6) pp. 170-179. 

Why is Hearing Loss a Public Health Concern?

Tremblay, K. L. (2017) Hearing Journal. 70(4) pp. 14,16

‘Answer: Because hearing loss is highly prevalent, with numerous associated health risks that burden affected individuals, their family, and their community.’


When hearing loss is viewed from a public health perspective, the mission expands to include improving health and quality of life, not only through prevention and treatment of hearing loss but also through the promotion of healthy behaviors. An essential component of public health is the “collective action for sustained population-wide health improvement” (Lancet. 2004;363[9426]:2084; Bull World Health Organ. 2014;92[5]:367 As such, there are many ongoing initiatives aimed at making hearing health care more accessible and affordable within and outside of the medical model (Ear Hear. 2016;37[4]:376; Ear Hear. 2010;31[1]:2

Read the full article here


Recurrent acute otitis media detracts from health-related quality of life

Kujala T. et al. (2017) The Journal of Laryngology & Otology. 131(2) pp. 128-137


Acute otitis media causes discomfort to children and inconvenience to their parents. This study evaluated the quality of life in children with recurrent acute otitis media aged less than 24 months.

Quality of life was evaluated in 149 children aged 10 to 24 months who were referred to the Oulu University Hospital on account of recurrent acute otitis media. The children were treated with or without surgery. Age-matched controls were selected randomly from the general child population. Parents completed the Child Health Questionnaire.

The children with recurrent acute otitis media had a significantly poorer quality of life than control children. The control children with a history of a few acute otitis media episodes had a significantly poorer quality of life than those without any such history. The quality of life of the children with recurrent acute otitis media improved during the one-year follow up, regardless of the treatment, but did not reach the same level as healthy children.

Acute otitis media detracted from quality of life when a generic measure was used. The mode of treatment used to prevent further recurrences of acute otitis media did not influence quality of life improvement.

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Development and psychometric evaluation of a health-related quality of life instrument for individuals with adult-onset hearing loss

Stikaa, C.J. & Haysb, R.D. International Journal of Audiology. Published online: 22 Apr 2016

Objective: Self-reports of ‘hearing handicap’ are available, but a comprehensive measure of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) for individuals with adult-onset hearing loss (AOHL) does not exist. Our objective was to develop and evaluate a multidimensional HRQOL instrument for individuals with AOHL.

Design: The Impact of Hearing Loss Inventory Tool (IHEAR-IT) was developed using results of focus groups, a literature review, advisory expert panel input, and cognitive interviews. Study sample: The 73-item field-test instrument was completed by 409 adults (22–91 years old) with varying degrees of AOHL and from different areas of the USA.

Results: Multitrait scaling analysis supported four multi-item scales and five individual items. Internal consistency reliabilities ranged from 0.93 to 0.96 for the scales. Construct validity was supported by correlations between the IHEAR-IT scales and scores on the 36-item Short Form Health Survey, version 2.0 (SF-36v2) mental composite summary (r = 0.32–0.64) and the Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly/Adults (HHIE/HHIA) (r ≥ −0.70).

Conclusions: The field test provides initial support for the reliability and construct validity of the IHEAR-IT for evaluating HRQOL of individuals with AOHL. Further research is needed to evaluate the responsiveness to change of the IHEAR-IT scales and identify items for a short-form.

Read the abstract here