Self-reported hearing difficulties are associated with loneliness, depression and cognitive dysfunction during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: To investigate whether hearing difficulties exacerbate the damaging effects of enforced social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic on isolation and loneliness, and lead to accelerated mental health issues and cognitive dysfunction.
Design: Rapid online survey. Participants completed a series of online questionnaires regarding hearing ability, socialisation (pre- and during-pandemic), loneliness, anxiety, depression and cognitive function.
Study Sample: 80 participants over the age of 70 with access to the internet.
Results: There was a significant reduction in socialisation levels from pre-pandemic in this population. Hearing difficulties were significantly associated with greater levels of loneliness, depression and self-perceived cognitive dysfunction after controlling for age, gender, and level of education. Additionally, compared to pre-pandemic, people with hearing difficulties had increased odds of reporting worsened anxiety, depression, and memory during the COVID-19 pandemic, although only the effect of hearing difficulties on the change in memory reached statistical significance after controlling for age, gender, and level of education.
Conclusions: The worse the self-reported hearing abilities are, the greater the negative impact of enforced social distancing on depression, loneliness and cognitive function.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Feb 2021

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