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J Am Geriatr Soc. 2010 Jun;58(6):1097-103.

Hearing impairment affects older people's ability to drive in the presence of distracters.

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School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Communication Disability Centre, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



To investigate the effects of hearing impairment and distractibility on older people's driving ability, assessed under real-world conditions.


Experimental cross-sectional study.


University laboratory setting and an on-road driving test.


One hundred seven community-living adults aged 62 to 88. Fifty-five percent had normal hearing, 26% had a mild hearing impairment, and 19% had a moderate or greater impairment.


Hearing was assessed using objective impairment measures (pure-tone audiometry, speech perception testing) and a self-report measure (Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly). Driving was assessed on a closed road circuit under three conditions: no distracters, auditory distracters, and visual distracters.


There was a significant interaction between hearing impairment and distracters, such that people with moderate to severe hearing impairment had significantly poorer driving performance in the presence of distracters than those with normal or mild hearing impairment.


Older adults with poor hearing have greater difficulty with driving in the presence of distracters than older adults with good hearing.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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