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Experiences, hearing loss, psychological symptoms (Laird et al., 2020)

journal contribution
posted on 25.09.2020 by Emma C. Laird, Rebecca J. Bennett, Caitlin M. Barr, Christina A. Bryant
Purpose: There is a well-established relationship between hearing loss and psychological symptoms. To ensure audiological rehabilitation is provided appropriately for older adults with comorbid psychological symptoms, a greater understanding of their preferences and experiences is needed. This study sought to understand experiences of hearing loss and audiological rehabilitation from the perspective of older adults with comorbid psychological symptoms (e.g., depression, anxiety, psychosis).
Design: A qualitative study using in-depth semistructured interviews was conducted with older adults who had attended audiological rehabilitation within the last year and scored above established cutoffs on measures of depression, anxiety, and psychosis. A thematic analysis generated themes that related to participants’ experiences of hearing loss and audiological rehabilitation.
Results: Participants included 14 older adults (eight men and six women) with an average age of 70.5 years (SD = 4.45, range: 64–80) who received hearing aids or a cochlear implant. Three major themes emerged from the analysis of participant interviews. “The cumulative impact of hearing loss and psychological symptoms” theme describes the two-way, additive relationship between hearing ability and psychological symptoms. “The experience of loss throughout hearing loss and audiological rehabilitation” captures subjective losses, the impact they have, and how participants cope with them. In contrast, “The experience of gain throughout hearing loss and audiological rehabilitation” describes the participants’ reported gains, their related impacts, and coping strategies.
Conclusions: The experiences of participants revealed that the presence of comorbid psychological symptoms can influence the experience of hearing loss and audiological rehabilitation. These findings have implications for how audiological rehabilitation is provided to ensure optimal outcomes for adults with hearing loss and comorbid psychological symptoms.

Supplemental Material S1. Sampling matrix containing number of participants fulfilling criteria (gender, age, hearing device, psychological symptoms) to obtain maximum variation sampling.

Supplemental Material S2. Interview topic guide containing initial and follow-up open-ended questions.

Laird, E. C., Bennett, R. J., Barr, C. M., & Bryant, C. A. (2020). Experiences of hearing loss and audiological rehabilitation for older adults with comorbid psychological symptoms: A qualitative study. American Journal of Audiology. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1044/2020_AJA-19-00123

Funding

This work was supported by Australian Rotary Health and the Rotary Club of Terrigal District (awarded to E. C. Laird).

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