Objective: To investigate the correlations between hearing handicap, speech recognition, listening effort and fatigue.
Design: 84 adults with hearing loss (65-85 years) completed three self-report questionnaires: the Fatigue Assessment Scale (FAS), the Effort Assessment Scale (EAS), and the Hearing Handicap Inventory for Elderly (HHIE). Audiometric assessment included pure tone audiometry and speech recognition in noise.
Results: There was a significant positive correlation between handicap and fatigue (r = 0.39, p < 0.05) and handicap and effort (r=0.73, p < 0.05). There were significant (but lower) correlations between speech recognition and fatigue (r = 0.22, p < 0.05) or effort (r=0.32, p < 0.05). There was no significant correlation between hearing level and fatigue or effort.
Conclusion: Hearing handicap and speech recognition both correlate with self-reported listening effort and fatigue, which is consistent with a model of listening effort and fatigue where perceived difficulty is related to sustained effort and fatigue for unrewarding tasks over which the listener has low control. A clinical implication is that encouraging clients to recognise and focus on the pleasure and positive experiences of listening may result in greater satisfaction and benefit from hearing aid use.