Associations of Hearing Loss and Dual Sensory Loss With Mortality: A Systematic Review, Meta-analysis, and Meta-regression of 26 Observational Studies With 1 213 756 Participants

JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2022 Mar 1;148(3):220-234. doi: 10.1001/jamaoto.2021.3767.


Importance: Hearing loss (HL) and dual sensory loss (DSL) are prevalent, disabling, and associated with numerous age-related health conditions, including dementia and frailty. To date, no evidence-based summary of their mortality risk is available.

Objective: To clarify the epidemiological associations between HL/DSL and mortality.

Data sources: PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library, from inception until June 18, 2021.

Study selection: Two blinded reviewers selected observational or interventional studies, published as full-length English articles in peer-reviewed journals, that reported the presence or severity of HL or DSL (ie, comorbid HL and vision loss), whether objectively measured or self-reported, in association with any mortality estimate, among adults 18 years and older.

Data extraction and synthesis: Two reviewers extracted data and evaluated study bias using the Newcastle-Ottawa Scale, following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA)/Meta-analysis of Observational Studies in Epidemiology (MOOSE) guidelines and a PROSPERO-registered protocol. The analysis pooled maximally adjusted estimates using mixed-effects models, measured heterogeneity using I2, investigated sources of heterogeneity using meta-regression and subgroup meta-analyses, examined and adjusted for publication bias, performed influence and cumulative meta-analyses, and assessed evidence quality using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluations (GRADE) framework.

Main outcomes and measures: Hazard ratios (HRs) for all-cause, cardiovascular, or other mortality estimates.

Results: This review included 14 retrospective and 12 prospective observational studies (1 213 756 participants) from 3220 records. Risk of bias was low to moderate; exclusion of 3 high-risk studies did not alter conclusions. Hearing loss was associated with excess all-cause mortality (HR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.07-1.19; I2 = 77%; n = 21; 95% prediction interval [PI], 0.93-1.37) and cardiovascular mortality (HR, 1.28; 95% CI, 1.10-1.50; I2 = 60%; n = 6; 95% PI, 0.84-1.96), while DSL was associated with larger excess risks (all-cause: HR, 1.40; 95% CI, 1.30-1.51; I2 = 34%; n = 10; 95% PI, 1.18-1.66; cardiovascular: HR, 1.86; 95% CI, 1.31-2.65; I2 = 0%; n = 2), after adjustment for demographics and comorbidities. Prespecified meta-regression sufficiently explained heterogeneity, with longer follow-up duration weakening the pooled association, leaving low (29%) residual heterogeneity. Meta-regression among audiometric studies showed a dose-response association (doubling of HR per 30-dB increase in HL). Self-reported and audiometric effect sizes were similar, with lower heterogeneity in the latter. Associations were robust to trim-and-fill adjustment for publication bias and single-study influence and cumulative meta-analyses. Associations with accident/injury, cancer, and stroke mortality were inconclusive, with only 1 to 3 studies. Overall evidence quality was moderate.

Conclusions and relevance: In this systematic review and meta-analysis, HL and DSL were associated with excess all-cause and cardiovascular mortality. Physicians caring for patients with HL should consider its relevance to general health and longevity.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cardiovascular Diseases*
  • Comorbidity
  • Deafness*
  • Disease Progression
  • Hearing Loss*
  • Humans
  • Observational Studies as Topic
  • Retrospective Studies