Association between hearing impairment and risk of hospitalization in older adults

Dane J. Genther, Joshua Betz, Sheila Pratt, Kathryn R. Martin, Tamara B. Harris, Suzanne Satterfield, Douglas C. Bauer, Anne B. Newman, Eleanor M. Simonsick, Frank R. Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Objectives To determine the association between hearing impairment (HI) and risk and duration of hospitalization in community-dwelling older adults in the United States. Design Prospective observational study. Setting Health, Aging and Body Composition Study. Participants Well-functioning community-dwelling white and black Medicare beneficiaries aged 70 to 79 at study enrollment in 1997-98 were followed for a median of 12 years. Measurements Incidence, annual rate, and duration of hospitalization were the primary outcomes. Hearing was defined as the pure-tone average (PTA) of hearing thresholds in decibels re: hearing level (dB HL) at octave frequencies from 0.5 to 4.0 kHz. Mild HI was defined as a PTA from 25 to 40 dB HL, and moderate or greater HI was defined as a PTA greater than 40 dB HL. Results Of the 2,148 participants included in the analysis, 1,801 (83.5%) experienced one or more hospitalizations, with 7,007 adjudicated hospitalization events occurring during the study period. Eight hundred eighty-two (41.1%) participants had normal hearing, 818 (38.1%) had mild HI, and 448 (20.9%) had moderate or greater HI. After adjusting for demographic characteristics and cardiovascular comorbidities, persons with mild HI experienced a 16% (hazard ratio (HR) = 1.16, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.04-1.29) greater risk of incident hospitalization and a 17% (incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.17, 95% CI = 1.04-1.32) greater annual rate of hospitalization, and those with moderate or greater HI experienced a 21% (HR = 1.21, 95% CI = 1.06-1.38) greater risk of incident hospitalization and a 19% (IRR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.04-1.38) greater annual rate of hospitalization than persons with normal hearing. There was no significant association between HI and mean duration of hospitalization. Conclusion Hearing-impaired older adults experience a greater incidence and annual rate of hospitalization than those with normal hearing. Investigating whether rehabilitative therapies could affect the risk of hospitalization in older adults requires further study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1146-1152
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume63
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

Keywords

  • epidemiology
  • hearing impairment
  • hospitalization
  • older adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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