Trends in hearing impairment in United States adults: The National Health Interview Survey, 1986-1995

David J. Lee, Orlando Gómez-Marín, Byron L. Lam, D. Diane Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background. United States trends in the prevalence of hearing impairment have not been reported. These trends could be rising due to changes in environmental noise exposure; alternatively, rates could be declining via a compression of morbidity hypothesis that has been postulated to be occurring in older adults residing in developed nations. Methods. The National Health Interview Survey is a continuous multistage area probability survey of the U.S. civilian noninstitutionalized population living at addressed dwellings. Adults within randomly selected households were administered a chronic conditions list that included questions about hearing impairment. Complete data were available on 107,100 white and 17,904 African-American adults aged 18 years and older in survey years 1986-1995. Race-specific rates of hearing impairment were adjusted for age and sample survey design. Results. Annual age-adjusted rates of some hearing impairment ranged from 11.0% to 12.7% in whites and 5.9% to 8.5% in African Americans. Rates of severe bilateral hearing impairment in these race groups were 0.7% to 1.1% and 0.1% to 0.5%, respectively. There was no evidence of change in rates of hearing impairment among participants stratified by race and 10-year age groups. Conclusions. Reported rates of hearing impairment remained relatively stable in the U.S. noninstitutionalized population from 1986 to 1995. There was no evidence of change in rates in adults grouped into 10-year age groups. Population-based studies designed to include clinical and self-reported measures of hearing impairment are needed to further examine trends in hearing impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1186-1190
Number of pages5
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series A Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aging
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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