UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

The association between degree of hearing loss and depression in older adults MacDonald, Mary


Hearing loss is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions that can affect quality of life among older adults. Evidence from large-scale health studies of self-reported hearing loss and depression documents a strong link between untreated hearing loss and depression in older adults (e.g.; National Council on the Aging, 2000). These studies also show that as self-reported severity of hearing loss increases, the prevalence of self-reported depression increases. However, research has yet to establish that this correlation does not simply represent the underlying response bias associated with self-ratings of hearing loss. If hearing loss contributes towards symptoms of depression, then it is vital that the relationship is understood so that the symptoms of each can be treated appropriately. The primary purpose of the current study was to investigate the relationship between hearing loss and depressive symptoms using objective measures of hearing, thereby removing the effects of self-report bias from estimates of hearing loss. Forty-five participants, who were not receiving treatment for hearing loss, aged 65 and older, were recruited from local geriatric clinics and public venues. Three measures were administered: i) objective measures of hearing: pure tone audiometry and otoacoustic emissions; ii) a subjective measure of hearing: the Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly (HHIE); and iii) a self-assessment of depression: the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) scale. Multiple regression analysis showed that there was a significant relationship between objectively measured hearing loss and depressive symptoms (r²= 0.102, p<0.05). Depressive symptoms increased with increasing severity of objective hearing loss, revealing a dose-response relationship between objective hearing loss and depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that hearing loss could be a modifiable contributor to depressive symptoms in older adults.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International