Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities in Hearing Health Care Among Older Americans

J Aging Health. 2016 Feb;28(1):68-94. doi: 10.1177/0898264315585505. Epub 2015 May 7.


Objective: Hearing impairment is highly prevalent, but little is known about hearing health care among older minority adults.

Method: We analyzed nationally representative, cross-sectional data from 1,544 older adults ≥ 70 years with audiometry and hearing care data from the 2005-2006 and 2009-2010 National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys.

Results: After adjusting for age and speech frequency pure tone average, Blacks (odds ratio [OR] = 1.68, vs. Whites) and those with greater education (OR = 1.63, ≥ college vs. < high school) were more likely to report recent hearing testing, while White older adults and those with greater socioeconomic status were more likely to report regular hearing aid use (all ps < .05). Based on a multivariate analysis, Blacks were not more likely than Whites to use hearing aids despite being more likely to have had recent hearing testing.

Discussion: Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities exist in hearing health care and represent critical areas for research and intervention.

Keywords: health care disparities; hearing health care; hearing loss; minority health; older adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Healthcare Disparities* / ethnology
  • Hearing Aids / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hearing Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mexican Americans / statistics & numerical data*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*