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Hearing aid use and falls risk (Riska et al., 2021)

posted on 2021-05-25, 18:44 authored by Kristal M. Riska, Sarah B. Peskoe, Alex Gordee, Maragatha Kuchibhatla, Sherri L. Smith
Purpose: Falls are considered a significant public health issue, and hearing loss has been shown to be an independent risk factor for falls. The primary objective of this study was to determine if hearing aid use modified (reduced) the association. We hypothesized that routine hearing aid use would reduce the impact of hearing loss on the odds of falling. If hearing aid users have reduced odds of falling, then that would have an important impact on falls prevention health care.
Method: Data from 8,091 individuals 40 years of age and older who completed National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) cycles 1999–2004 were used. NHANES comprises a series of cross-sectional studies, each of which is representative of the total civilian noninstitutionalized population of children and adults in the United States, enabling unbiased national estimates of health that can be independently reproduced. Self-reported hearing, hearing aid status, falls history, and comorbidities were extracted and analyzed using regression modeling.
Results: The 8,091 individuals were grouped based on a self-reported history of falls in the last year. Self-reported hearing loss was significantly associated with odds of falling. Categorizing individuals based on routine hearing aid use was included as an interaction term in the fully adjusted models and was not significant, suggesting no difference in falls based on hearing aid status.
Conclusions: The unique results of the current study show that when examining self-reported hearing in a nationally representative sample, hearing aid use does not appear to mitigate or modify the association between self-reported hearing and falls. Future research designs are highlighted to address limitations identified using NHANES data for this research, and focus on the use of experimental designs to further understand the association between hearing loss and falls, and whether hearing loss may be a modifiable risk factor for falls.

Supplemental Material S1. NHANES variables used to define measures of interest.

Supplemental Material S2. Odds ratio of self-reported falls by hearing loss as measured by hearing handicap.

Riska, K. M., Peskoe, S. B., Gordee, A., Kuchibhatla, M., & Smith, S. L. (2021). Preliminary evidence on the impact of hearing aid use on falls risk in individuals with self-reported hearing loss. American Journal of Audiology. Advance online publication.


The Duke BERD Methods Core’s support of this project was made possible (in part) by Grant UL1TR002553 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.