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The Effects of Hearing Impairment in Older Adults on Communication Partners: A Systematic Review
06 August 2020 (online)
Background: Hearing impairment is highly prevalent in older adults and can affect the daily activities of a person who is hard of hearing (HOH). The impact of hearing impairment may also have collateral effects on the primary communication partner (CP; e.g., spouse, close family member, or caregiver) of the person who is HOH.
Purpose: We aimed to characterize the impact of hearing loss in a person who is HOH on his or her CP.
Research Design: We conducted a systematic review of manuscripts examining the consequences of hearing loss in a person who is HOH on the CP. We searched PubMed, Embase, Scopus, PyscINFO, CINAHL Plus with full text, and Web of Science for peer-reviewed articles using a predefined search string and hand-searched reference lists of relevant articles.
Data Collection and Analysis: We initially screened abstracts blinded for author and journal to eliminate irrelevant and duplicate articles. Descriptive information on study populations, hearing assessments, outcome metrics, and study findings were extracted from full-length manuscripts.
Results: Of the 1,047 abstracts retrieved from database searching and 5 hand-searched articles, 24 articles met inclusion criteria. These articles included observational clinical studies, randomized clinical trials, and epidemiologic studies. Overall, CPs experienced a restricted social life, increased burden of communication, and poorer quality of life (QOL) and relationship satisfaction. Effects of hearing impairment on a CP’s mental health were unclear. Treatment of hearing loss in the person who is HOH tended to improve QOL, communication, feelings toward the person who is HOH, and activity participation of the CP.
Conclusions: This review highlights the broad effects of hearing impairment and the importance of involving CPs in hearing loss treatment decisions.