Socioeconomic Position and Health-Seeking Behavior for Hearing Loss Among Older Adults in England

J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2015 May;70(3):443-52. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbu024. Epub 2014 Mar 24.


Objective: To examine whether socioeconomic position (SEP) is associated with progression in the health-seeking process for hearing loss.

Method: Logistic regression of data from a cross-sectional survey representative of noninstitutionalized, 50 years and older population of England (ELSA wave 2, 2004). Using self-reported hearing difficulty as starting point, we examined the association between SEP and health-seeking behaviors in 6 stages leading to hearing aid acquisition and use.

Results: Higher SEP was associated with lower odds of self-reported hearing difficulty, adjusted odds ratio [OR] = 0.87 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.83-0.91, p < .001). There was marginal negative association between higher SEP and receiving hearing aid recommendation (adjusted OR = 0.88, 95% CI 0.78-0.99, p = .05). SEP was not associated with any other stage of health-seeking behavior.

Discussion: Among the noninstitutionalized older population of England, SEP-related inequalities exist in the prevalence of self-reported hearing loss. However, SEP is not strongly associated with progression in the remaining stages of health-seeking process during and after an individual's contact with the health system.

Keywords: Health-seeking behavior; Hearing loss; Socioeconomic gradient..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • England / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hearing Aids / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology*
  • Hearing Loss / rehabilitation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Prevalence
  • Self Report
  • Social Class*