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Ann Intern Med. 1990 Aug 1;113(3):188-94.

Quality-of-life changes and hearing impairment. A randomized trial.

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  • 1Audie L. Murphy Memorial Veterans Hospital, San Antonio, Texas.



To assess whether hearing aids improve the quality of life of elderly persons with hearing loss.


Primary care clinics at a Bureau of Veterans Affairs hospital.


One hundred and ninety-four elderly veterans who were identified as being hearing impaired from a screening survey involving 771 consecutive clinic patients. Of the original 194, 188 (97%) completed the trial.


Subjects were randomly assigned to either receive a hearing aid (n = 95) or join a waiting list (n = 99). MAIN ENDPOINTS: A comprehensive battery of disease-specific and generic quality-of-life measures were administered at baseline, 6 weeks, and 4 months.


Persons assigned to the two groups were similar in age, ethnicity, education, marital status, occupation, and comorbid diseases. At baseline, 82% of subjects reported adverse effects on quality of life due to hearing impairment, and 24% were depressed. At follow-up, a significant change in score improvements for social and emotional function (34.0; 95% CI, 27.3 to 40.8; P less than 0.0001), communication function (24.2; CI, 17.2 to 31.2; P less than 0.0001), cognitive function (0.28; CI, 0.08 to 0.48; P = 0.008), and depression (0.80; CI, 0.09 to 1.51; P = 0.03) was seen in subjects who received hearing aids compared with those assigned to the waiting list. Six drop-outs (three per group), no crossovers, and no significant changes in cointerventions were seen. Average, self-reported, daily aid use in the hearing aid group was 8 hours.


Hearing loss is associated with important adverse effects on the quality of life of elderly persons, effects which are reversible with hearing aids.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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