Attitude and help-seeking for hearing impairment

Br J Audiol. 1996 Oct;30(5):313-24. doi: 10.3109/03005369609076779.


The aim of the present study was to investigate help-seeking for hearing impairment in the elderly, and to compare groups showing dissimilar help-seeking on their attitude toward hearing loss and hearing aids. Attitude factors were based on a revised version of the Health Belief Model, and included beliefs about: the severity of the hearing problems, the benefits of a hearing aid, barriers to hearing aid use, and the opinions of significant others. Hearing threshold levels were determined for a random sample (N = 624) of subjects aged 57 years or older from 12 general practices. Those with a mean loss of 35 dBHL in both ears (23.1%) were considered hearing impaired. Of every four hearing impaired subjects, approximately one had not discussed the impairment with his doctor and one had discussed it but did not have a hearing aid trial. About 40% of the hearing impaired individuals had a hearing aid, and relatively few had given up using it (6% of those who had an aid). These results showed a higher incidence of help-seeking for hearing impairment than comparable British studies. After the influence of hearing impairment was controlled for, the following relationships between attitude and help-seeking were found: (1) non-consulters perceived their impairment as relatively inconsequential, most frequently demonstrated a passive acceptance of hearing problems with increasing age, saw least benefits of hearing aid use, and experienced little social pressure to seek help; (2) those who did not try an aid after consulting their doctor stood out because they saw most stigma-related barriers to hearing aid use and felt their significant others agreed with them on this negative evaluation of aids; and (3) current users had the most favourable attitude toward hearing aids.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Correction of Hearing Impairment*
  • Female
  • Hearing Aids*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Severity of Illness Index