The epidemiology of hearing impairment in an Australian adult population

Centre for Population Studies in Epidemiology, Department of Human Services, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia.
International Journal of Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 9.2). 04/1999; 28:247-252. DOI: 10.1093/ije/28.2.247
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Background This study measured the prevalence of hearing impairment, and major demo: graphic factors that influence the prevalence, in a representative South Australian adult population sample aged greater than or equal to 15 years. Methods The study group was recruited from representative population surveys of South Australians. Participants in these surveys who reported a hearing disability were then recruited to an audiological study which measured air and bone conduction thresholds, in addition a sample of those people who reported no hearing disability were recruited to the audiological study. Results The data reported in this study are the first in Australia to assess the prevalence The data reported in this study are the first in Australia to assess the prevalence of hearing impairment from a representative population survey using audiological methods. The data show that 16.6% of the South Australian population have a hearing impairment in the better ear at greater than or equal to 25 dBHTL and 22.2% in the worse ear at the same level. The results obtained in this representative sample compare well with those obtained in the British Study of Hearing, although some differences were observed. Conclusions Overall there are only a few studies worldwide that have audiologically assessed Overall, there are only a few studies worldwide that have audiologically assessed the impairment of hearing from a representative population sample. The overall prevalence of hearing impairment in Australia is similar to that found in Great Britain, although there are some differences between the estimates of severity of impairment and some sex differences. The corroboration of the two studies reinforces the status of hearing impairment as the most common disability of adulthood. The present study also showed that there are a large number of Australians who may benefit from a more systematic community-based, rehabilitation programme including the fitting of hearing aids. Secondly, the study identified the need for health goals and targets for hearing to be based on an epidemiological approach to the problem.

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    ABSTRACT: Background Healthy hearing depends on sensitive ears and adequate brain processing. Essential aspects of both hearing and cognition decline with advancing age, but it is largely unknown how one influences the other. The current standard measure of hearing, the pure-tone audiogram is not very cognitively demanding and does not predict well the most important yet challenging use of hearing, listening to speech in noisy environments. We analysed data from UK Biobank that asked 40–69 year olds about their hearing, and assessed their ability on tests of speech-in-noise hearing and cognition. Methods and Findings About half a million volunteers were recruited through NHS registers. Respondents completed ‘whole-body’ testing in purpose-designed, community-based test centres across the UK. Objective hearing (spoken digit recognition in noise) and cognitive (reasoning, memory, processing speed) data were analysed using logistic and multiple regression methods. Speech hearing in noise declined exponentially with age for both sexes from about 50 years, differing from previous audiogram data that showed a more linear decline from <40 years for men, and consistently less hearing loss for women. The decline in speech-in-noise hearing was especially dramatic among those with lower cognitive scores. Decreasing cognitive ability and increasing age were both independently associated with decreasing ability to hear speech-in-noise (0.70 and 0.89 dB, respectively) among the population studied. Men subjectively reported up to 60% higher rates of difficulty hearing than women. Workplace noise history associated with difficulty in both subjective hearing and objective speech hearing in noise. Leisure noise history was associated with subjective, but not with objective difficulty hearing. Conclusions Older people have declining cognitive processing ability associated with reduced ability to hear speech in noise, measured by recognition of recorded spoken digits. Subjective reports of hearing difficulty generally show a higher prevalence than objective measures, suggesting that current objective methods could be extended further.
    PLoS ONE 09/2014; 9(9):e107720. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0107720 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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