Moderate effects of hearing loss on mental health and subjective well-being: results from the Nord-Trøndelag Hearing Loss Study

Psychosom Med. 2004 Sep-Oct;66(5):776-82. doi: 10.1097/01.psy.0000133328.03596.fb.


Objective: To estimate effects of hearing loss on symptoms of anxiety, depression, self-esteem, and subjective well-being.

Methods: A normal population sample of 50,398 subjects, age 20 to 101 years, in Nord-Trøndelag completed audiometric tests and questionnaires. The association between hearing loss and mental health was assessed with multiple linear regression analyses, controlling for social background variables.

Results: Effects of hearing loss were mostly significant, but moderate in strength. Effects were stronger among young (20-44 years) and middle-aged (45-64 years) than among older (65+ years) people. Loss of high or middle frequency hearing had almost no impact on mental health measures if low frequency hearing was not also impaired. The strongest observed effect was a change of 0.1 SD in mental health per 10 dB hearing loss.

Conclusions: Hearing loss is associated with substantially reduced mental health ratings among some young and middle-aged persons, but usually does not affect mental health much among older persons.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis
  • Anxiety Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Audiometry / statistics & numerical data
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Health Status*
  • Health Surveys
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis*
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology
  • Hearing Loss / psychology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Concept*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Surveys and Questionnaires