Long-term subjective loneliness in adults after hearing loss treatment

Int J Audiol. 2019 Aug;58(8):464-467. doi: 10.1080/14992027.2019.1593523. Epub 2019 Mar 31.


Objective: While hearing loss is associated with loneliness, the long term impact of hearing loss interventions remains unknown. We investigated levels of loneliness in adults at baseline, 6-months, 1-year and 5-years after receiving a hearing aid (HA) or cochlear implant (CI). Design: In this 5-year follow-up to the Studying Multiple Outcomes after Aural Rehabilitative Treatment study, participants completed the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Loneliness Scale at baseline, 6-months, 1-year, and 5-year time points. Generalized estimating equations modeled the population average UCLA score over time. Study Sample: Analytic cohort of 115 participants (74% of original 156) 50 years or older who received a HA or CI at baseline and completed at least one follow up visit. Results: Loneliness scores were not different at 5 years versus baseline for HA users. CI users showed significantly reduced loneliness at 6-months and 1-year from baseline and with no significant difference at 5 years. Conclusion: Over 5 years, we observed no increase in loneliness from baseline in a cohort of adults receiving HAs and CIs. Short-term reduction in loneliness in CI users was demonstrated. Future randomized trials are needed to definitively assess the impact of treated versus untreated hearing loss on loneliness.

Keywords: Hearing loss; UCLA Loneliness Scale; cochlear implant; hearing aid; loneliness.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation
  • Aged
  • Auditory Perception*
  • Cochlear Implants*
  • Correction of Hearing Impairment / instrumentation*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Hearing
  • Hearing Aids*
  • Hearing Loss / physiopathology
  • Hearing Loss / psychology
  • Hearing Loss / rehabilitation*
  • Humans
  • Loneliness*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Persons With Hearing Impairments / psychology
  • Persons With Hearing Impairments / rehabilitation*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome