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Chinese and Western cultural differences in seniors’ attitudes and beliefs concerning hearing loss and related coping strategies Hsu, Benson Cheng-Lin

Abstract

Previous research on the psychosocial aspects of the hard-of-hearing populations and cross-cultural studies in other health areas suggested that differences are likely to exist in the ways the Chinese and Western societies view the issues surrounding hearing impairment; however, no previous research has been done to directly compare these two cultures’ attitudes towards hearing loss. Hence, the present study provided exploratory data and analyses to address the question whether Chinese and Western elderly differ in their attitudes and beliefs regarding aspects of hearing loss and related coping strategies in order to help inform best practices in audiology and generate hypotheses for future research. Questionnaire data were obtained from 30 elderly Chinese-Canadians and 30 elderly Euro-Canadians. A subgroup of participants from each cultural group also attended a follow-up interview, where each interviewee was given an opportunity to express the rationales behind choosing a certain level of agreement for a selected subset of items in the questionnaire. Analysis results of the questionnaire data revealed that there were significant / marginally significant mean rating differences between the Chinese and the Western cultural groups for six of the 21 items, and marginally significant differences between the Chinese and the Western subgroups who reported hearing loss were found for two of the 28 items. Results from the compilation of interview data generally supported those obtained from the questionnaire data. However, the interview results also revealed more divergence in the patterns of response between the two cultures where statistical tests failed to find a significant difference and discovered that interviewees from the two cultural groups presented markedly different conceptualizations of several key words used in the questionnaire. In summary, the results of the present study provided partial support for the following hypotheses: Chinese and Western seniors differ in their opinions about 1) the causes of hearing loss and the degree of control they have over its development; 2) factors that might constitute obstacles to using hearing aids; and 3) the helpfulness of family members and the necessity of seeking professional attention in dealing with hearing loss.

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