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Hearing Handicap and Speech Recognition Correlate With Self-Reported Listening Effort and Fatigue

Alhanbali, Sara1,3; Dawes, Piers1,3; Lloyd, Simon2,3; Munro, Kevin J1,3

doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000515
Research Article: PDF Only

Objectives: To investigate the correlations between hearing handicap, speech recognition, listening effort, and fatigue.

Design: Eighty-four adults with hearing loss (65 to 85 years) completed three self-report questionnaires: the Fatigue Assessment Scale, the Effort Assessment Scale, and the Hearing Handicap Inventory for Elderly. Audiometric assessment included pure-tone audiometry and speech recognition in noise.

Results: There was a significant positive correlation between handicap and fatigue (r = 0.39, p < 0.05) and handicap and effort (r = 0.73, p < 0.05). There were significant (but lower) correlations between speech recognition and fatigue (r = 0.22, p < 0.05) or effort (r = 0.32, p < 0.05). There was no significant correlation between hearing level and fatigue or effort.

Conclusions: Hearing handicap and speech recognition both correlate with self-reported listening effort and fatigue, which is consistent with a model of listening effort and fatigue where perceived difficulty is related to sustained effort and fatigue for unrewarding tasks over which the listener has low control. A clinical implication is that encouraging clients to recognize and focus on the pleasure and positive experiences of listening may result in greater satisfaction and benefit from hearing aid use.

1Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness, School of Health Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK; 2Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, Salford, UK; and 3NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Manchester, UK.

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ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: This Manchester Biomedical Research Centre is funded by the National Institute for Health Research.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Address for correspondence: Sara Alhanbali, Manchester Centre for Audiology and Deafness, School of Health Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9PL, UK. E-mail:

Received March 7, 2017; accepted September 13, 2017.

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