The prevalence of hearing impairment and its burden on the quality of life among adults with Medicare Supplement Insurance

Qual Life Res. 2012 Sep;21(7):1135-47. doi: 10.1007/s11136-011-0028-z. Epub 2011 Oct 7.


Purpose: To estimate the impact of hearing impairment on quality of life from a physical and mental standpoint.

Methods: Data were obtained from the Health Update Survey, which contains questions on demographics, comorbid conditions, and the Veterans RAND 12-item health status/quality of life survey. It was fielded on a random sample of 15,000 adults with an AARP(®) Medicare Supplement plan, insured by UnitedHealthcare. Respondents were divided into those with hearing impairments and others, based on their response to a survey question. Univariate and multivariate analyses were conducted to estimate the likelihood of hearing impairment and its impact on quality of life while controlling for respondent demographics and comorbid conditions.

Results: Of the 5,515 eligible respondents, 10.4% reported having hearing impairments. The strongest predictor of hearing impairment was older age, while those with 4 years of college or more were least likely to have hearing impairments. Those with hearing impairments averaged significantly lower physical component and mental component scores, exceeding those of numerous other chronic conditions.

Conclusions: This is the first known study of hearing impairment among those with Medigap coverage. Hearing impairment was strongly associated with lower quality of life from both a physical and mental health standpoint.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cost of Illness
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology
  • Hearing Loss / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare Part B / statistics & numerical data*
  • Mental Health*
  • Quality of Life*
  • United States / epidemiology