Corrected and Uncorrected Hearing Impairment in Older Canadians

Corna, Laurie and Wade, T.J. and Streiner, D.L. and Cairney, J. (2009) Corrected and Uncorrected Hearing Impairment in Older Canadians. Gerontology, 55 (4). pp. 468-476.

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BACKGROUND: Hearing impairment (HI) is a common chronic condition in later life, but one that can often be improved with the use of a hearing aid. However, a distinction is not often made between corrected and uncorrected HI in the literature. OBJECTIVE: To estimate the prevalence of corrected and uncorrected HI, and assess whether there are differences in sociodemographic factors among older adults (age 50+) with corrected HI, uncorrected HI and no HI. METHOD: Secondary data came from two national data sources: the 1994 National Population Health Survey (n = 6,202) and the Canadian Community Health Survey 1.1 (n = 50,113). We use multinomial logistic regression to assess sociodemographic risk markers for both corrected and uncorrected HI. RESULTS: Both corrected and uncorrected HI was common in this age group: 6.5 and 4.0%, respectively, in the National Population Health Survey and 5.7 and 2.5% in the Canadian Community Health Survey. In both samples, the prevalence of corrected and uncorrected HI increased with age and was more common among men. Respondents with either corrected or uncorrected HI were less likely to be married and more likely to report other physical health problems compared to respondents with no HI. In the Canadian Community Health Survey, income was associated with lower odds of reporting uncorrected HI, while education was associated with reduced likelihood of reporting corrected HI. CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that HI is prevalent in later life, and sociodemographic factors such as marital status, education, and income do not differ significantly between those with corrected and uncorrected HI compared with respondents with no HI. Further investigation into the factors associated with hearing aid use is necessary to better target older adults who might benefit from wearing a hearing aid.

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