Stigma Regarding Hearing Loss and Hearing Aids: A Scoping Review

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Stigma regarding hearing loss and hearing aids presents a great challenge, especially because dealing with its consequences in an appropriate and timely manner might be associated with better outcomes for the person with hearing loss, their caregivers, and society. A clear understanding of the stigma concept and its measurement in the area of hearing loss among older adults might advance knowledge in this area and provide better life quality to persons with this problem. The aims of our scoping review were (a) to systematically obtain and evaluate the relevant literature on stigma and hearing loss and (b) to summarize current research findings and draw conclusions for future research and clinical care in this area. A scoping review of the literature published from January 1982 up until December 2014 on stigma and hearing loss among older persons was conducted. Twenty-one relevant publications were identified. Conceptually, the studies concentrated on exploring the meaning and subjective experience associated with stigma, especially public and self stigma. Lacking a theoretical framework, the majority of the studies were based on a description of stigmatic attitudes associated with hearing loss and hearing aids, and they limited themselves to describe almost exclusively the stereotypes associated with hearing-loss and hearing aids. The size and visibility of hearing aids were the main features associated with the reluctance to use them and with the stigma associated with them. More theoretically based and empirically rigorous research is needed in this area.

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