A Taxonomy of Fatigue Concepts and Their Relation to Hearing Loss


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Abstract

Fatigue is common in individuals with a variety of chronic health conditions and can have significant negative effects on quality of life. Although limited in scope, recent work suggests persons with hearing loss may be at increased risk for fatigue, in part due to effortful listening that is exacerbated by their hearing impairment. However, the mechanisms responsible for hearing loss-related fatigue, and the efficacy of audiologic interventions for reducing fatigue, remain unclear. To improve our understanding of hearing loss-related fatigue, as a field it is important to develop a common conceptual understanding of this construct. In this article, the broader fatigue literature is reviewed to identify and describe core constructs, consequences, and methods for assessing fatigue and related constructs. Finally, the current knowledge linking hearing loss and fatigue is described and may be summarized as follows: Hearing impairment may increase the risk of subjective fatigue and vigor deficits; adults with hearing loss require more time to recover from fatigue after work and have more work absences; sustained, effortful, listening can be fatiguing; optimal methods for eliciting and measuring fatigue in persons with hearing loss remain unclear and may vary with listening condition; and amplification may minimize decrements in cognitive processing speed during sustained effortful listening. Future research is needed to develop reliable measurement methods to quantify hearing loss-related fatigue, explore factors responsible for modulating fatigue in people with hearing loss, and identify and evaluate potential interventions for reducing hearing loss-related fatigue.

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