Correlates of Hearing Aid Use in UK Adults: Self-Reported Hearing Difficulties, Social Participation, Living Situation, Health, and Demographics

Ear Hear. 2019 Sep/Oct;40(5):1061-1068. doi: 10.1097/AUD.0000000000000695.


Objectives: Hearing impairment is ranked fifth globally for years lived with disability, yet hearing aid use is low among individuals with a hearing impairment. Identifying correlates of hearing aid use would be helpful in developing interventions to promote use. To date, however, no studies have investigated a wide range of variables, this has limited intervention development. The aim of the present study was to identify correlates of hearing aid use in adults in the United Kingdom with a hearing impairment. To address limitations in previous studies, we used a cross-sectional analysis to model a wide range of potential correlates simultaneously to provide better evidence to aid intervention development.

Design: The research was conducted using the UK Biobank Resource. A cross-sectional analysis of hearing aid use was conducted on 18,730 participants aged 40 to 69 years old with poor hearing, based on performance on the Digit Triplet test.

Results: Nine percent of adults with poor hearing in the cross-sectional sample reported using a hearing aid. The strongest correlate of hearing aid use was self-reported hearing difficulties (odds ratio [OR] = 110.69 [95% confidence interval {CI} = 65.12 to 188.16]). Individuals who were older were more likely to use a hearing aid: for each additional year of age, individuals were 5% more likely to use a hearing aid (95% CI = 1.04 to 1.06). People with tinnitus (OR = 1.43 [95% CI = 1.26 to 1.63]) and people with a chronic illness (OR = 1.97 [95% CI = 1.71 to 2.28]) were more likely to use a hearing aid. Those who reported an ethnic minority background (OR = 0.53 [95% CI = 0.39 to 0.72]) and those who lived alone (OR = 0.80 [95% CI = 0.68 to 0.94]) were less likely to use a hearing aid.

Conclusions: Interventions to promote hearing aid use need to focus on addressing reasons for the perception of hearing difficulties and how to promote hearing aid use. Interventions to promote hearing aid use may need to target demographic groups that are particularly unlikely to use hearing aids, including younger adults, those who live alone and those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Hearing Aids / statistics & numerical data*
  • Hearing Loss / epidemiology
  • Hearing Loss / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Minority Groups / statistics & numerical data*
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Self Report
  • Social Participation*
  • Tinnitus / epidemiology*
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology