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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2000 May;55(3):S190-4.

Functional status and hearing impairments in women at midlife.

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Department of Geriatrics, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock 72205, USA.



The aim of this study was to address the prevalence of clinically assessed high-frequency hearing impairment (HFHI) and self-reported hearing impairment (SRHI) and examine the association of these hearing assessments with physical and mental functioning in African American and Caucasian women at midlife.


The sample included 467 women who participated in the Michigan Functioning Substudy of the Study of Women's Health Across the Nation. Outcomes examined were physical and mental functioning from the Medical Outcomes Trust SF-12 Health Survey. HFHI was defined as threshold averages of 25 dB or greater over 4000, 6000, and 8000 Hertz.


Prevalence of unilateral HFHI was 26.6% (n = 68), and prevalence of bilateral HFHI was 12.0% (n = 56). Prevalence of SRHI was 16.7% (n = 78), with minimal overlap between HFHI and SRHI (n = 36). In multiple variable logistic regression analyses, HFHI in one ear only was not associated with physical or mental functioning and bilateral HFHI was associated with limited mental functioning only. SRHI was associated with limited physical and mental functioning.


Poor correlation of HFHI and SRHI in this population, combined with the significant association of SRHI with both measures of functioning, indicates that the two methods may be measuring different aspects of impairment. SRHI may facilitate early identification of individuals with hearing-related functional limitations.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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