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The cognitive and psychosocial effects of auditory training and hearing aids in adults with hearing loss

Authors Nkyekyer J, Meyer D, Pipingas A, Reed NS

Received 11 September 2018

Accepted for publication 16 November 2018

Published 11 January 2019 Volume 2019:14 Pages 123—135

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CIA.S183905

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Colin Mak

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Richard Walker


Joanna Nkyekyer,1 Denny Meyer,2 Andrew Pipingas,3 Nicholas S Reed4

1Australian Research Council Training Centre in Biodevices, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; 2Department of Statistics Data Science and Epidemiology, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; 3Center for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, VIC, Australia; 4Cochlear Center for Hearing and Public Health, Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA

Purpose: Our study assessed the efficacy of the simultaneous use of hearing aids and auditory training for improving cognition and psychosocial function in adults with hearing loss, and the relationships between hearing loss, speech perception and cognition.
Participants and methods: A 40-person (aged 50–90 years) pilot study in Melbourne, Australia, was conducted. Participants with hearing impairment completed the Geriatric Depression Scale-Short Form, questions about social activity participation, a wide range of cognitive tasks and a speech perception test at baseline, 3 and 6 months. Participants underwent auditory training for 6 months and used hearing aids for 3 months.
Results: Correlations and structural equation modeling suggested that several cognitive domains were associated with speech perception at baseline, but only the Incongruent Stroop cognition measure was associated with hearing loss. Hearing aid use reduced problems with communication, but there were no significant improvements in speech perception, social interaction or cognition. The effect of hearing aids and auditory training for improving depressive symptoms was significant with a moderate to large effect size (Cohen’s d=0.87).
Conclusion: The small sample size and a relatively high rate of attrition meant that this study was underpowered. However, baseline results suggested relationships between hearing loss, speech perception and cognition, and the hearing intervention provided evidence of reduced depressive symptoms. A full-scale, randomized hearing loss intervention and a longer neuroimaging study with cognitive outcomes measured in the short term as well as after several years of hearing aid use are needed.

Keywords: cognition, depression, hearing loss intervention, speech perception

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