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Individual Life-Course Socioeconomic Position and Hearing Aid Use in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study

Yi, Julie S.; Garcia Morales, Emmanuel E.; Betz, Joshua F.; Deal, Jennifer A.; Dean, Lorraine T.; Du, Simo; Goman, Adele M.; Griswold, Michael E.; Palta, Priya; Rebok, George W.; Reed, Nicholas S.; Thorpe, Roland J.; Lin, Frank R.; Nieman, Carrie L.


Julie S. Yi

Emmanuel E. Garcia Morales

Joshua F. Betz

Jennifer A. Deal

Lorraine T. Dean

Simo Du

Michael E. Griswold

Priya Palta

George W. Rebok

Nicholas S. Reed

Roland J. Thorpe

Frank R. Lin

Carrie L. Nieman


To measure the association between individual life-course socioeconomic position (SEP) and hearing aid use, we examined childhood and adulthood socioeconomic variables collected at the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study baseline visit (1987–1989)/Life Course Socioeconomic Status study (2001–2002) and hearing aid use data collected at visit 6 (2016–2017).

ARIC is a prospective cohort study of older adults (45–64 years) recruited from 4 U.S. communities. This analysis included a subset of 2 470 participants with hearing loss at visit 6 (≥25 decibels hearing level [dB HL] better-ear) with complete hearing aid use data. Childhood SEP variables included parental education, parental occupation, and parental home ownership. Young and older adulthood SEP variables included income, education, occupation, and home ownership. Each life epoch was assigned a score ranging from 0 to 5 and then summed to calculate the individual cumulative SEP score. Multivariable-adjusted logistic regression was used to estimate the association between individual cumulative SEP and hearing aid use. Missing SEP scores were imputed for participants with incomplete socioeconomic data.

Of the 2 470 participants in the analytic cohort (median [interquartile interval] age 79.9 [76.7–84.0], 1 330 [53.8%] women, 450 [18.2%] Black), 685 (27.7%) participants reported hearing aid use. Higher cumulative SEP was positively associated with hearing aid use (odds ratio [OR] = 1.09, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.04–1.14), and slightly stronger for childhood (OR = 1.09, 95% CI: 1.00–1.20) than older adulthood SEP score (OR = 1.06, 95% CI: 0.95–1.18).

In this community-based cohort of older adults with hearing loss, higher individual life-course SEP was positively associated with hearing aid use.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jul 29, 2021
Online Publication Date Nov 23, 2021
Publication Date Mar 3, 2022
Deposit Date Sep 6, 2022
Journal The Journals of Gerontology: Series A
Print ISSN 1079-5006
Electronic ISSN 1758-535X
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 77
Issue 3
Pages 647-655
Keywords Age-related hearing loss, Cumulative disadvantage, Health disparities, Hearing health care disparities, Socioeconomic position
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