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Use of Hearing Aids and Assistive Listening Devices in an Older Australian Population

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Hearing loss is a common sensory impairment experienced by older persons. Evidence shows that the use of hearing aids and/or assistive listening devices (ALDs) can benefit those with a hearing loss but that historically the uptake and use of these technologies has remained relatively low compared with the number of people who report a hearing loss.


The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence, usage, and factors associated with the use of hearing aids and ALDs in an older representative Australian population.

Research Design:

A population-based survey.

Study Sample:

A total of 2956 persons out of 3914 eligible people between the ages of 49 and 99 yr (mean age 67.4 yr), living in the Blue Mountains, west of Sydney, completed a hearing study conducted from 1997 to 2003.

Data Collection and Analysis:

Hearing levels were assessed using pure tone audiometry, and subjects were administered a comprehensive hearing survey by audiologists, which included questions about hearing aid and ALD usage. Logistic regression analysis was used to identify factors associated with hearing aid and ALD usage.


Of the surveyed population, 33% had a hearing loss as measured in the better ear. 4.4% had used an ALD in the past 12 mo, and 11% owned a hearing aid. Of current hearing aid owners, 24% never used their aids. ALD and hearing aid usage were found to be associated with increasing age, hearing loss, and self-perceived hearing disability.


These results indicate that hearing aid ownership and ALD usage remains low in the older population. Given the significant proportion of older people who self-report and have a measured hearing loss, it is possible that more could be helped through the increased use of hearing aid and/or ALD technology. Greater efforts are needed to promote the benefits of these technologies and to support their use among older people with hearing loss.
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Keywords: Aging; Blue Mountains Hearing Study; assistive listening device; hearing aids; hearing loss; prevalence studies; self-reported handicap

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2010

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