14 December 2006

Personality influences hearing aid decision

Attitudes towards hearing loss and hearing aids are closely related to personality traits.

Evidence indicates that elderly hearing-impaired people who use hearing aids live happier, healthier, and even longer lives than those who choose not to wear hearing aids. However, only a small fraction (approximately 23%) of hearing-impaired adults seek help and use hearing aids.

Despite the known benefits, why do some people with a hearing loss actively try to improve their hearing while many others do not?

According to a survey, hearing aid seekers, compared with other adults, tend to be more pragmatic and routine-oriented and less likely to come up with novel approaches when dealing with a complex problem such as hearing impairment. Moreover, these individuals were found to have a relatively stronger sense of personal power in coping with life's challenges. They also reported less frequent use of social support as a means to manage difficult or stressful situations than their non-hearing-impaired peers.

The study was conducted by The Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, USA, set out to answer this question by exploring the personalities of hearing aid seekers in an attempt to determine whether those who seek help are different from the general population.

Better treatment

Acknowledging the different ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving in hearing aid seekers may help doctors and other professionals within hearing health care identify the hard-to-reach hearing-impaired and provide all patients with a better service. A greater understanding of various personality characteristics will increase the effectiveness of the services by adjusting the counselling and treatment to each individual and offer him or her the best care possible, ultimately increasing their quality of life.

Source: “Who Wants a Hearing Aid? Personality Profiles of Hearing Aid Seekers” in Ear & Hearing vol. 26. 2005.

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