Research Output
Loneliness and Social Network Characteristics Among Older Adults with Hearing Loss in the ACHIEVE Study
  Background: Hearing loss is linked to loneliness and social isolation, but evidence is typically based on self-reported hearing. This study quantifies the associations of objective and subjective hearing loss with loneliness and social network characteristics among older adults with untreated hearing loss.

Methods: This study uses baseline data (N=933) from The Aging and Cognitive Health Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) study. Hearing loss was quantified by the better ear, speech-frequency pure tone average (PTA), Quick Speech-in-Noise test, and hearing related quality of life. Outcomes were validated measures of loneliness and social network characteristics. Associations wereassessed by Poisson, negative binomial, and linear regression adjusted for demographic, health, and study design characteristics.

Results: Participants were mean of 76.8 (4.0) years, 54.0% female, and 87.6% White. Prevalence of loneliness was 38%. Worse PTA was associated with 19% greater prevalence of moderate or greater loneliness (PR: 1.19.95% CI: 1.06, 1.33). Better speech-in-noise recognition was associated with greater social network characteristics (e.g., larger social network size [IRR: 1.04, 95% CI: 1.00, 1.07]). Worse hearing related quality of life was associated with 29% greater prevalence of moderate or greater loneliness (PR: 1.29, 95% CI: 1.19, 1.39) and worse social network characteristics (e.g., more constricted social network size [IRR: 0.96, 95% CI: 0.91, 1.00]).

Conclusion: Results suggest the importance of multiple dimensions of hearing to loneliness and social connectedness. Hearing related quality of life may be a potentially useful, easily administered clinical tool for identifying older adults with hearing loss associated with greater loneliness and social isolation.

  • Type:


  • Date:

    14 August 2023

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  • Publisher

    Oxford University Press (OUP)

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  • ISSN:


  • Funders:

    National Institutes of Health


Huang, A. R., Reed, N. S., Deal, J. A., Arnold, M., Burgard, S., Chisolm, T., …ACHIEVE Collaborative Research Group. (2024). Loneliness and Social Network Characteristics Among Older Adults with Hearing Loss in the ACHIEVE Study. Journals of Gerontology, Series A, 79(2), Article glad196.



Geriatrics and Gerontology; Aging; Sensory Loss; Mental Health; Epidemiology

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