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Do Personality Factors Assessed Before Cochlear Implantation Predict Hearing-Related Quality Of Life After Cochlear Implantation in Postlingually Deafened Adults?

Muigg, Franz1,2; Bliem, Harald R.2; Holzner, Bernhard3; Kühn, Heike4; Zorowka, Patrick G.1; Weichbold, Viktor W.1

doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000626
Research Article

Background: Studies have shown that cochlear implants improve deaf patients’ hearing-related quality of life (hrQoL), but the degree of improvement varies considerably between patients. This study investigated whether personality factors contribute to hrQoL outcome after cochlear implantation.

Method: Fifty adult patients with postlingual hearing loss who received a unilateral cochlear implant were administered the Neuroticism-Extraversion-Openness Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI; a personality inventory) and the Nijmegen Cochlear Implant Questionnaire (NCIQ; a hrQoL questionnaire). The NEO-FFI was administered only before implantation; the NCIQ was administered before implantation and 12 months after implant activation. A linear regression analysis was computed to detect whether NCIQ scores at 12 months were predicted by the NEO-FFI personality factors (i.e., Extraversion, Neuroticism, Openness to Experience, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness) assessed before implantation.

Results: HrQoL scores had significantly improved 12 months after cochlear implantation in all subdomains of the NCIQ. Of the five personality factors, solely Neuroticism was negatively associated to the NCIQ subdomain self-esteem (β = −0.34; p = 0.013) at 12 months after cochlear implantation.

Conclusions: While significant improvement of hrQoL was seen 12 months after implant activation, this improvement was barely predicted by the Big-Five personality traits measured before implantation. Only Neuroticism was found to moderately influence postimplantation hrQoL in our patients, in the way that higher degrees of Neuroticism tend to go along with lower degrees of self-esteem (as conceptualized by the NCIQ). The failure to detect personality effects on hrQoL could partly be due to the low levels of Extraversion and Openness to Experience observed in our sample of patients with hearing loss.

1Department for Hearing, Speech and Voice Disorders, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

2Department of Psychology, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

3Department of Psychiatry, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria

4Comprehensive Hearing Center Würzburg, University-ENT-Hospital, Würzburg, Germany.

Received April 10, 2017; accepted May 4, 2018.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Address for correspondence: Franz Muigg, Department for Hearing, Speech and Voice Disorders, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstraße 35, A-6020 Innsbruck, Austria. E-mail: franz.muigg@tirol-kliniken.

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