To determine the association between hearing impairment (HI) and risk and duration of hospitalization in community-dwelling older adults in the United States.
Prospective observational study.
Health, Aging and Body Composition Study.
Well-functioning community-dwelling white and black Medicare beneficiaries aged 70 to 79 at study enrollment in 1997-98 were followed for a median of 12years.
Incidence, annual rate, and duration of hospitalization were the primary outcomes. Hearing was defined as the pure-tone average (PTA) of hearing thresholds in decibels re: hearing level (dB HL) at octave frequencies from 0.5 to 4.0kHz. Mild HI was defined as a PTA from 25 to 40dB HL, and moderate or greater HI was defined as a PTA greater than 40dB HL.
Of the 2,148 participants included in the analysis, 1,801 (83.5%) experienced one or more hospitalizations, with 7,007 adjudicated hospitalization events occurring during the study period. Eight hundred eighty-two (41.1%) participants had normal hearing, 818 (38.1%) had mild HI, and 448 (20.9%) had moderate or greater HI. After adjusting for demographic characteristics and cardiovascular comorbidities, persons with mild HI experienced a 16% (hazard ratio (HR)=1.16, 95% confidence interval (CI) =1.04-1.29) greater risk of incident hospitalization and a 17% (incidence rate ratio (IRR)=1.17, 95% CI=1.04-1.32) greater annual rate of hospitalization, and those with moderate or greater HI experienced a 21% (HR=1.21, 95% CI=1.06-1.38) greater risk of incident hospitalization and a 19% (IRR=1.19, 95% CI=1.04-1.38) greater annual rate of hospitalization than persons with normal hearing. There was no significant association between HI and mean duration of hospitalization.
Hearing-impaired older adults experience a greater incidence and annual rate of hospitalization than those with normal hearing. Investigating whether rehabilitative therapies could affect the risk of hospitalization in older adults requires further study.
Bibliographical noteThis research was supported by National Institute on Aging (NIA) Contracts N01-AG-6–2101, N01-AG-6–2103, N01-AG-6–2106; NIA Grant R01-AG028050; and National Institute of Nursing Research Grant R01-NR012459. This study was further supported in part by National Institutes of Health Grant T32DC000027, NIA grant K24AG031155, National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders Grant K23DC011279, Intramural Research Program of the NIA, Triological Society and American College of Surgeons through the Clinician Scientist Award, and Eleanor Schwartz Charitable Foundation. Dr. Pratt was supported in part with resources and the use of facilities at the Department of Veterans Affairs Pittsburgh Healthcare System, although the contents do not represent the views of the Department of Veterans Affairs or the U.S. government. This work was presented as a poster display as part of the American Auditory Society Scientific and Technology Meeting, March 6–8, 2014, Scottsdale, Arizona.
- hearing impairment
- older adults
- QUICK DIAGNOSIS UNITS
- ELDER LIFE PROGRAM
- HEALTH-CARE USE
- INCIDENT DEMENTIA