Association between hearing aid use and mortality in adults with hearing loss in the USA: a mortality follow-up study of a cross-sectional cohort

Janet S Choi, Meredith E. Adams, Eileen M. Crimmins, Frank R. Lin, Jennifer A. Ailshire

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Abstract

Background: Hearing loss has been identified as an independent risk factor for negative health outcomes and mortality. However, whether rehabilitation with hearing aid use is associated with lower mortality is currently unknown. This study aimed to examine the associations of hearing loss, hearing aid use, and mortality in the USA. Methods: In this cross-sectional, follow-up study, we assessed 9885 adults (age 20 years and older) who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 1999 and 2012 and completed audiometry and hearing aid use questionnaires (1863 adults with hearing loss). Main measures included hearing loss (speech-frequency pure-tone average) and hearing aid use (never users, non-regular users, and regular users). Mortality status of the cohort was linked to the National Death Index up to Dec 31, 2019. Cox proportional regression models were used to examine the association between hearing loss, hearing aid use, and mortality while adjusting for demographics and medical history. Findings: The cohort consisted of 9885 participants, of which 5037 (51·0%) were female and 4848 (49·0%) were male with a mean age of 48·6 years (SD 18·1) at baseline. The weighted prevalence of audiometry-measured hearing loss was 14·7% (95% CI 13·3–16·3%) and the all-cause mortality rate was 13·2% (12·1–14·4) at a median 10·4 years of follow-up (range 0·1–20·8). The rate of regular hearing aid use among adults with hearing loss was 12·7% (95% CI 10·6–15·1). Hearing loss was an independent risk factor associated with higher mortality (adjusted hazard ratio [HR] 1·40 [95% CI 1·21–1·62]). Among individuals with hearing loss, the adjusted mortality risk was lower among regular hearing aid users in comparison with never users (adjusted HR 0·76 [0·60–0·95]) accounting for demographics, hearing levels, and medical history. There was no difference in adjusted mortality between non-regular hearing aid users and never users (adjusted HR 0·93 [0·70–1·24]). Interpretation: Regular hearing aid use was associated with lower risks of mortality than in never users in US adults with hearing loss when accounting for age, hearing loss, and other potential confounders. Future research is needed to investigate the potential protective role of hearing aid use against mortality for adults with hearing loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e66-e75
JournalThe Lancet Healthy Longevity
Volume5
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2024

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Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an Open Access article under the CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license

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  • Journal Article

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