Hearing loss increases the risk and the degree of distress, depression, somatisation and loneliness, a study finds.

A Dutch study has found that hearing loss is negatively associated with higher distress, depression, somatisation and loneliness in young and middle-aged adults. The more severe the hearing loss, the larger the risk of distress, depression, somatisation and loneliness.

The aim of the study was to examine the association between hearing status and psychosocial health in adults aged between 18 and 70 years of age.

The study found that there are significant, adverse associations between hearing status and distress, somatisation, depression and loneliness.

Distress and somatisation

For every decibel signal to noise ratio (dB SNR) reduction of hearing status, both the distress and somatisation scores increased by 2%.


The odds of developing moderate or severe depression increase by 5% for every dB SNR reduction in hearing.


The odds for developing severe or very severe loneliness significantly increased by 7% for every dB SNR reduction in hearing.

Difference between age groups

Different age groups exhibit different associations between hearing status and psychosocial health, with loneliness being an issue particularly in the youngest age group from 18 to 30 years. In the group of middle-aged adults aged 40 to 50 years, the number of significant associations was highest.

About the study

Data for the study was derived from the National Longitudinal Study on Hearing (NL-SH) conducted in The Netherlands. The NL-SH is an ongoing prospective cohort study examining the relationship between hearing impairment and several domains in life. The NL-SH is conducted over the Internet. 1,511 people participated in the study. The data analysed in the study was baseline data of the NL-SH collected in the period from November 2006 to November 2007.

In the study, hearing status was determined using a speech-in-noise screening test over the Internet. Self-reported psychosocial health was asserted using a set of online questionnaires.

The study, “The Association Between Hearing Status and Psychosocial Health Before the Age of 70 Years: Results From an Internet-Based National Survey on Hearing”, was published in the journal Ear and Hearing.

Sources: www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov and Ear and Hearing

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