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Correlates of Hearing Aid Use in UK Adults

Self-Reported Hearing Difficulties, Social Participation, Living Situation, Health, and Demographics

Sawyer, Chelsea S.1; Armitage, Christopher J.2,3,4; Munro, Kevin J.1,3; Singh, Gurjit5,6,7; Dawes, Piers D.1,3

doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000695
Research Article: PDF Only

Objectives: Hearing impairment is ranked fifth globally for years lived with disability, yet hearing aid use is low among individuals with a hearing impairment. Identifying correlates of hearing aid use would be helpful in developing interventions to promote use. To date, however, no studies have investigated a wide range of variables, this has limited intervention development. The aim of the present study was to identify correlates of hearing aid use in adults in the United Kingdom with a hearing impairment. To address limitations in previous studies, we used a cross-sectional analysis to model a wide range of potential correlates simultaneously to provide better evidence to aid intervention development.

Design: The research was conducted using the UK Biobank Resource. A cross-sectional analysis of hearing aid use was conducted on 18,730 participants aged 40 to 69 years old with poor hearing, based on performance on the Digit Triplet test.

Results: Nine percent of adults with poor hearing in the cross-sectional sample reported using a hearing aid. The strongest correlate of hearing aid use was self-reported hearing difficulties (odds ratio [OR] = 110.69 [95% confidence interval {CI} = 65.12 to 188.16]). Individuals who were older were more likely to use a hearing aid: for each additional year of age, individuals were 5% more likely to use a hearing aid (95% CI = 1.04 to 1.06). People with tinnitus (OR = 1.43 [95% CI = 1.26 to 1.63]) and people with a chronic illness (OR = 1.97 [95% CI = 1.71 to 2.28]) were more likely to use a hearing aid. Those who reported an ethnic minority background (OR = 0.53 [95% CI = 0.39 to 0.72]) and those who lived alone (OR = 0.80 [95% CI = 0.68 to 0.94]) were less likely to use a hearing aid.

Conclusions: Interventions to promote hearing aid use need to focus on addressing reasons for the perception of hearing difficulties and how to promote hearing aid use. Interventions to promote hearing aid use may need to target demographic groups that are particularly unlikely to use hearing aids, including younger adults, those who live alone and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

1Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom;

2Manchester Centre for Health Psychology, Division of Psychology and Mental Health, School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom;

3Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, United Kingdom;

4National Institute for Health Research Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre, Manchester University Hospitals National Health Service Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, United Kingdom;

5Phonak Canada, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada;

6Department of Psychology, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada; and

7Department of Speech-Language Pathology, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and text of this article on the journal’s Web site (www.ear-hearing.com).

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The research was funded by a doctoral studentship supported by Sonova. The study was supported by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre and the NIHR Greater Manchester Patient Safety Translational Research Centre.

C.S.S and P.D.D. analyzed the data; C.S.S. wrote the article; P.D.D., C.J.A., K.J.M., and G.S. provided critical revision. All authors discussed the results and implications and commented on the manuscript at all stages.

This research was conducted using the UK Biobank Resource.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Address for correspondence: Chelsea S. Sawyer, University of Manchester, HCD office, Ellen Wilkinson Building, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9PL. E-mail: chelsea.sawyer@manchester.ac.uk

Received February 28, 2018; accepted November 19, 2018.

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