Understanding Hearing Loss and Barriers to Hearing Health Care Among Korean American Older Adults: A Focus Group Study

J Appl Gerontol. 2018 Nov;37(11):1344-1367. doi: 10.1177/0733464816663554. Epub 2016 Aug 22.


Hearing loss is associated with an accelerated decline in social, cognitive, and physical functioning among older adults. However, little is known about its impact and barriers to hearing health care in any ethnic minorities. The aim of this study was to explore experiences related to hearing loss and barriers to hearing health care among older Korean Americans (KAs). We conducted four focus groups with 19 older KAs with hearing loss and four communication partners. Qualitative content analysis revealed four themes: (a) impact of hearing loss, (b) self-perception of hearing loss, (c) coping strategies for hearing loss, and (d) barriers to hearing health care (price, language, lack of collaborative communications, perceptions about hearing aids, and lack of knowledge). Older KAs were significantly impacted by hearing loss but tended not to seek care due to multiple factors. Culturally tailored hearing interventions are urgently needed to promote hearing health in the KA community.

Keywords: Korean American; hearing aids; hearing health care; hearing loss; immigrant health.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian / psychology*
  • Emigrants and Immigrants*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Hearing Loss / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / ethnology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Concept
  • United States