Associations of Hearing Loss Severity and Hearing Aid Use with Hospitalization among Older US Adults

Anthony Thai, Suleman I. Khan, Jeff Choi, Yifei Ma, Uchechukwu C. Megwalu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Importance: Hearing loss is associated with higher hospitalization risk among older adults. However, evidence on whether hearing aid use is associated with fewer hospitalizations among individuals with hearing loss remains limited. Objective: To assess the association between audiometric hearing loss severity and hearing aid use and hospitalization. Design, Setting, and Participants: This population-based cross-sectional study used audiometric and health care utilization data for respondents aged 65 years or older from 4 cycles of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 2005 to 2016. Data were analyzed from February 23, 2021, to March 22, 2022. Exposures: Audiometric hearing loss severity and participant-reported hearing aid use. Main Outcomes and Measures: The main outcome was respondent-reported hospitalization in the past 12 months. Multivariable logistic regression was performed to assess the association of hearing loss severity with hospitalization. To assess the association of hearing aid use with hospitalization, propensity score matching was performed with 2:1 nearest neighbor matching without replacement. Results: Of 2060 respondents (mean [SD] age, 73.9 [5.9] years; 1045 [50.7%] male), 875 (42.5%) had normal hearing, 653 (31.7%) had mild hearing loss, 435 (21.1%) had moderate hearing loss, and 97 (4.7%) had severe to profound hearing loss. On multivariable analysis, moderate and severe hearing loss were associated with hospitalization (moderate hearing loss: odds ratio [OR], 1.50; 95% CI, 1.01-2.24; severe hearing loss: OR, 1.71; 95% CI, 1.03-2.84). Of 1185 respondents with at least mild hearing loss, 200 (16.9%) reported using a hearing aid. Propensity score-matched analysis showed that hearing aid use was not associated with hospitalization (OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.74-1.84), including among respondents with moderate or severe hearing loss (OR, 1.17; 95% CI, 0.71-1.92). Conclusions and Relevance: In this cross-sectional study, hearing loss was associated with higher risk of hospitalization, but hearing aid use was not associated with a reduction in hospitalization risk in the population with hearing loss. The association of hearing aid use with hospitalization should be evaluated in larger prospective studies with reliable data on the frequency of hearing aid use.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1005-1012
Number of pages8
JournalJAMA Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery
Issue number11
StatePublished - 10 Nov 2022
Externally publishedYes


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