Nonauditory determinants of self-perceived hearing problems among older adults: the role of stressful life conditions, neuroticism, and social resources

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2002 Jul;57(7):M466-9. doi: 10.1093/gerona/57.7.m466.


Background: The present study explored factors that influenced older individuals' subjective perception of hearing problems. In addition to objectively screened hearing ability, nonauditory factors such as stressful life conditions (visual impairment, chronic disease, disability, and recent stressful life events), neuroticism, and social resources were hypothesized to be predictors of self-perceived hearing problems.

Methods: These hypotheses were tested with a hierarchical regression model using a stratified sample of 425 community-dwelling older individuals (mean age = 72.2).

Results: Individuals with more recent stressful life events, higher levels of neuroticism, and less emotional support reported greater hearing problems after controlling for objectively screened hearing. In addition to the main effects, a significant interaction was observed between neuroticism and screened hearing, indicating that the combination of poor hearing and high neuroticism increased the level of self-perceived hearing problems.

Conclusions: The findings suggest that the effects of nonauditory factors should be taken into account in the application of self-assessed measures of hearing problems.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Hearing Disorders / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurotic Disorders / complications*
  • Social Support*