Social Isolation and Loneliness in the Hearing-Impaired Pediatric Population: A Scoping Review

Laryngoscope. 2021 Aug;131(8):1869-1875. doi: 10.1002/lary.29312. Epub 2020 Dec 31.


Objective: To review existing publications in order to evaluate the effect of hearing loss on social isolation and loneliness in the pediatric population.

Methods: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses for Scoping Review (PRISMA-ScR) guidelines were followed. Eight databases were searched. Studies were independently screened and analyzed by two reviewers. Publications were included if pediatric hearing-impaired individuals and social isolation or loneliness were studied. Discrepancies were resolved by a team of five reviewers.

Results: Thirty-three studies were included in this review. Sixty percent of studies (12/20) found that hearing loss was related to loneliness and 64.7% found that children with hearing loss experienced more social isolation (11/17). The Asher Loneliness and Dissatisfaction Questionnaire was commonly used to assess loneliness. No commonly used tool for assessing social isolation was found. Six articles found that school type was not associated with loneliness. Difficulty communicating was the most mentioned factor leading to loneliness and social isolation. Frequent recommendations to improve social integration included facilitating interactions with the hearing-impaired and educating the nonhearing-impaired to normalize the disability.

Conclusion: The majority of studies found that hearing impairment results in a higher prevalence of social isolation and loneliness. However, an association cannot be definitively claimed due to the lack of uniform assessment tools. This review emphasizes the need for standardized methods to assess loneliness and social isolation and highlights methods to improve social integration for the hearing impaired. Laryngoscope, 131:1869-1875, 2021.

Keywords: Pediatric; hearing loss; pediatric otology.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Female
  • Hearing Loss / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology*
  • Male
  • Persons With Hearing Impairments / psychology*
  • Social Isolation / psychology*