Hearing-aid use and long-term health outcomes

hearing handicap, mental health, social engagement, cognitive function, physical health, and mortality

Piers Dawes*, Karen J. Cruickshanks, Mary E. Fischer, Barbara E. K. Klein, Ronald Klein, David M. Nondahl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

34 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To clarify the impact of hearing aids on mental health, social engagement, cognitive function, and physical health outcomes in older adults with hearing impairment. Design: We assessed hearing handicap (hearing handicap inventory for the elderly; HHIE-S), cognition (mini mental state exam, trail making, auditory verbal learning, digit-symbol substitution, verbal fluency, incidence of cognitive impairment), physical health (SF-12 physical component, basic and instrumental activities of daily living, mortality), social engagement (hours per week spent in solitary activities), and mental health (SF-12 mental component) at baseline, five years prior to baseline, and five and 11 years after baseline. Study sample: Community-dwelling older adults with hearing impairment (N = 666) from the epidemiology of hearing loss study cohort. Results: There were no significant differences between hearing-aid users and non-users in cognitive, social engagement, or mental health outcomes at any time point. Aided HHIE-S was significantly better than unaided HHIE-S. At 11 years hearing-aid users had significantly better SF-12 physical health scores (46.2 versus 41.2; p = 0.03). There was no difference in incidence of cognitive impairment or mortality. Conclusion: There was no evidence that hearing aids promote cognitive function, mental health, or social engagement. Hearing aids may reduce hearing handicap and promote better physical health.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)838-844
Number of pages7
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • hearing aids
  • hearing impairment
  • activities of daily living
  • mental health
  • cognitive function
  • social engagement

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