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Original Investigation
December 6, 2018

Association of Audiometric Age-Related Hearing Loss With Depressive Symptoms Among Hispanic Individuals

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, New York State Psychiatric Institute, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Columbia University, New York
  • 3Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center, Department of Neurology, Taub Institute for Research in Alzheimer’s Disease and the Aging Brain, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • 4Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Milken Institute School of Public Health, The George Washington University, Washington, DC
  • 5Department of Medicine, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia University Irving Medical Center, Columbia University, New York, New York
  • 6Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, New York
JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online December 6, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2018.3270
Key Points

Question  Does an association exist between objectively measured age-related hearing loss and depression in Hispanic adults?

Findings  In this cross-sectional study of 5328 Hispanic adults 50 years or older from 4 US communities, audiometric hearing loss was associated with clinically relevant depressive symptoms as assessed using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, 10-item version, adjusting for hearing aid use, age, sex, educational level, study site, geographic background, cardiovascular disease, and antidepressant use. The odds of having clinically significant depressive symptoms increased approximately 45% for every 20-dB increase in hearing loss.

Meaning  Objectively measured hearing loss appears to be independently associated with clinically significant depressive symptoms in older Hispanic individuals.

Abstract

Importance  Age-related hearing loss is highly prevalent and has recently been associated with numerous morbid conditions of aging. Late-life depression is also prevalent and can be resistant to available treatments. Preliminary studies examining the association between hearing loss and late-life depression have been limited by subjective hearing measures, small sample sizes, and primarily white populations.

Objective  To assess whether a cross-sectional association exists between objective audiometric hearing loss and depressive symptoms in older Hispanic adults.

Design, Setting, and Participants  This cross-sectional study uses 2008-2011 Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos data collected in Miami, Florida, San Diego, California, Chicago, Illinois, or the Bronx, New York, from 5328 Hispanic adults 50 years or older who had exposure, outcome, and covariate data. Data analyses were conducted from March 2018 to September 2018.

Exposure  Audiometric hearing loss (pure-tone average).

Main Outcomes and Measures  Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale, 10-item version (CESD-10) score of 10 or higher, which indicates clinically significant depressive symptoms.

Results  The median age (interquartile range) of the 5328 participants was 58 (53-63) years, and 3283 participants (61.6%) were female. The mean (SD) CESD-10 score was 7.7 (6.4). Of the 5328 included participants, 1751 (32.9%) had clinically significant depressive symptoms. The odds of having these symptoms increased 1.44 (95% CI, 1.27-1.63) times for every 20 dB of hearing loss, adjusting for hearing aid use, age, sex, educational level, study site, geographic background, cardiovascular disease, and antidepressant use. Compared with those for individuals with normal hearing (0 dB), the odds of having clinically significant depressive symptoms was 1.81 (95% CI, 1.48-2.22) times as high in individuals with mild hearing loss (median threshold, 32.5 dB), 2.38 (95% CI, 1.77-3.20) times as high in individuals with moderate hearing loss (median threshold, 47.5 dB), and 4.30 (95% CI, 2.61-7.09) times as high in individuals with severe hearing loss (median threshold, 80 dB).

Conclusions and Relevance  Objective hearing loss appears to be associated with clinically significant depressive symptoms in older Hispanic people, with greater hearing loss seemingly associated with greater odds of having depressive symptoms. Given the high prevalence of untreated hearing loss in older adults, hearing loss may be a potentially modifiable risk factor for late-life depression.

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