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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2014 May;62(5):850-6. doi: 10.1111/jgs.12800. Epub 2014 Apr 29.

Association between hearing impairment and self-reported difficulty in physical functioning.

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  • 1Center on Aging and Health, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland; School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland.



To determine whether hearing impairment, defined by using objective audiometry, is associated with multiple categories of self-reported physical functioning in a cross-sectional, nationally representative sample of older adults.


Multivariate secondary analysis of cross-sectional data.


The 2005-06 and 2009-10 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.


Adults aged 70 and older who completed audiometric testing (N = 1,669).


Hearing was measured using pure-tone audiometry. Physical functioning was assessed using a structured interview.


In a model adjusted for age and demographic and cardiovascular risk factors, greater hearing impairment (per 25 dB hearing level (HL)) was associated with greater odds of physical disability in activities of daily living (odds ratio (OR) = 1.4, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.1-1.9), instrumental activities of daily living (OR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.2-2.2), leisure and social activities (OR = 1.5, 95% CI = 1.1-2.0), lower extremity mobility (OR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.1-1.7), general physical activities (OR = 1.3, 95% CI = 1.1-1.6), work limitation (OR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.0-1.9), walking limitation (OR = 1.6, 95% CI = 1.3-2.0), and limitation due to memory or confusion (OR = 1.4, 95% CI = 1.1-1.8). Hearing impairment was not associated with limitations in amount or type of work done (OR = 1.2, 95% CI = 1.0-1.6).


Hearing impairment in older adults is independently associated with greater disability and limitations in multiple self-reported categories of physical functioning.

© 2014, Copyright the Authors Journal compilation © 2014, The American Geriatrics Society.


hearing impairment; older adults; physical functioning

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