Purpose: Hearing loss is a risk factor for social isolation and loneliness. We investigated the buffering effects of hearing aid use on perceived social and emotional loneliness.
Method: Forty older adults participated. Prior to and following the hearing aid fitting, participants completed the De Jong Gierveld Loneliness Scale (De Jong Gierveld & Kamphuis, 1985); a change in feelings of loneliness following hearing aid use was the outcome indicator.
Results: There was a significant decline in perceptions of loneliness following 4 to 6 weeks of hearing aid use. A dose effect emerged with persons with moderate-to-severe hearing loss experiencing the greatest reduction in perceived loneliness with hearing aid use.
Conclusion: Associated with poorer health status and higher consumption of health care services, perceived loneliness is a challenge to treat. Hearing aid use appears to be a buffer against the experience of loneliness.