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PLoS One. 2018 Mar 29;13(3):e0195227. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0195227. eCollection 2018.

Association of socioeconomic status with hearing loss in Chinese working-aged adults: A population-based study.

He P1,2,3, Luo Y2, Hu X4, Gong R4, Wen X2, Zheng X2,5.

Author information

China Center for Health Development Studies, Peking University, Beijing, China.
Institute of Population Research, Peking University, Beijing, China.
Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, United States of America.
China Rehabilitation Research Center for Deaf Children, Beijing, China.
APEC Health Science Academy (HeSAY), Peking University, Beijing, China.


Hearing loss is the most common sensory impairment, but limited studies focused on the association of socioeconomic status (SES) with hearing loss among adults of working age. This paper aimed to fill this gap among Chinese adults. We obtained data from Ear and Hearing Disorder Survey conducted in four provinces of China in 2014-2015. The survey was based on WHO Ear and Hearing Disorders Survey Protocol and 25,860 adults aged 25 to 59 years were selected in this study. Trained local examiners performed pure tone audiometry to screen people with hearing loss, and those who were screened positively for hearing loss were referred to audiologists to make final diagnosis. SES was measured by occupation, education and income. Results show after adjusting for SES measures and covariates, in urban areas, compared with white-collar workers, blue-collar workers and the unemployed were more likely to have hearing loss, with an odds ratio of 1.2 (95%CI: 1.0, 1.3) and 1.2 (95%CI: 1.0, 1.4), respectively. Compared with people with education of senior high school or above, those with junior high school, primary school and illiteracy had 1.6 (95%CI: 1.4, 1.8), 2.1(95%CI: 1.7, 2.5) and 2.6 (95%CI: 1.9, 3.7) times as likely to have hearing loss, respectively. In rural areas, the unemployed had 1.5 (95%CI: 1.0, 2.3) times the risk of hearing loss compared with white-collar workers, and illiterates had 1.6 (95%CI: 1.6, 2.1) times the risk of hearing loss compared with people with education of senior high school or above, after SES variables and covariates were taken into considerations. Income was not significantly associated with hearing loss in urban and rural areas. In conclusion, SES, in the form of occupation and education, was associated with hearing loss among working-aged population, and further studies are needed to explore the mechanism of such association.

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