Self-reported Hearing Difficulty and Risk of Accidental Injury in US Adults, 2007 to 2015

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Abstract

Importance

Accidental injuries are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the United States. Hearing problems may be associated with an increased risk for such injuries.

Objective

To investigate associations between hearing difficulty and risk of accidental injuries among US adults.

Design, Setting, and Participants

Cross-sectional analysis of responses of a nationally representative sample of 232.2 million individuals 18 years or older who participated in the National Health Interview Survey from 2007 to 2015 and responded to the questions related to the hearing and injury modules.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The main outcome variable was accidental injury in the preceding 3 months. Hearing status was self-reported as “excellent,” “good,” “a little trouble,” “moderate trouble,” “a lot of trouble,” and “deaf.” Prevalence of accidental injuries was analyzed based on demographic characteristics and hearing status. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% CIs for injuries adjusted for demographics were calculated for degrees of hearing difficulty. A secondary outcome was association of hearing status with type of injury and was classified as driving related, work related, or leisure/sport related.

Results

Of 232.2 million US adults, 120.2 million (51.7%) were female, and 116.3 million (50.1%) considered their hearing to be less than excellent. Accidental injuries occurred in 2.8% of survey respondents. In comparison with normal-hearing adults (those with self-rated excellent or good hearing), the odds of accidental injury were higher in those with a little trouble hearing (4.1%; OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.5-1.8), moderate trouble hearing (4.2%; OR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.4-1.9), and a lot of trouble hearing (4.8%; OR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.6-2.3). Work- and leisure-related injuries were more prevalent among those with self-perceived hearing difficulty. Multivariate analysis, adjusted for age and sex, revealed leisure-related injuries was most consistently associated with various degrees of hearing difficulty. Odds ratios were 1.2 (95% CI, 1.0-1.4) in those with a little trouble hearing, 1.4 (95% CI, 1.1-1.9) in those with moderate trouble hearing, and 1.5 (95% CI, 1.1-2.2) in those with a lot of trouble hearing.

Conclusions and Relevance

Hearing difficulty is significantly associated with accidental injury, especially injury related to work or leisure. Increased awareness about hearing difficulty and its proper screening and management may assist in decreasing accidental injury.

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