Self-reported hearing difficulty and its association with general, cognitive, and psychosocial health in the state of Arizona, 2015

Nicole Marrone, Maia Ingram, Kristi Bischoff, Emily Burgen, Scott C. Carvajal, Melanie L. Bell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Hearing loss is among the leading causes of disability in persons 65 years and older worldwide and is known to have an impact on quality of life as well as social, cognitive, and physical functioning. Our objective was to assess statewide prevalence of self-reported hearing ability in Arizona adults and its association with general health, cognitive decline, diabetes and poor psychosocial health. Methods: A self-report question on hearing was added to the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a telephone-based survey among community-dwelling adults aged > 18 years (n = 6462). Logistic and linear regression were used to estimate the associations between self-reported hearing loss and health outcomes. Results: Approximately 1 in 4 adults reported trouble hearing (23.2, 95% confidence interval: 21.8, 24.5%), with responses ranging from "a little trouble hearing" to being "deaf." Adults reporting any trouble hearing were at nearly four times higher odds of reporting increased confusion and memory loss (OR 3.92, 95% CI: 2.94, 5.24) and decreased odds of reporting good general health (OR = 0.50, 95% CI: 0.40, 0.64) as compared to participants reporting no hearing difficulty. Those reporting any trouble hearing also reported an average 2.5 more days of poor psychosocial health per month (β = 2.52, 95% CI: 1.64, 3.41). After adjusting for sex, age, questionnaire language, race/ethnicity, and income category the association between diabetes and hearing loss was no longer significant. Conclusions: Self-reported hearing difficulty was associated with report of increased confusion and memory loss and poorer general and psychosocial health among Arizona adults. These findings support the feasibility and utility of assessing self-reported hearing ability on the BRFSS. Results highlight the need for greater inclusion of the full range of hearing disability in the planning process for public health surveillance, programs, and services at state and local levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number875
JournalBMC public health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 4 2019


  • Aging
  • Cognitive functioning
  • Deafness/hearing loss
  • Dementia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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