Greater the Hearing Loss, Greater the Risk of Death

Kevin J. Contrera, MPH MD Candidate Johns Hopkins School of Interview with:
Kevin J. Contrera, MPH
MD Candidate
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Hearing impairment is common in older adults. The prevalence of clinically significant hearing loss doubles with every decade of life, affecting two-thirds of adults 70 years of age or older. Hearing loss has been shown to be associated with various negative cognitive, mental, and physical health outcomes.

In a nationally representative sample of 1,666 adults aged 70 years or older, moderate or greater hearing impairment was associated with a 54% increased risk of mortality. This was after we statistically took into account factors that could influence this association. Essentially, the worse the patient’s hearing loss, the greater the risk of death.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Response:     Hearing loss can impact nearly every facet of life, including death. Hearing loss should be appropriately identified and treated in patients whenever possible.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response:      More research is required to determine if hearing loss necessarily causes death, and the mechanisms for this potential result.

Secondly, there needs to be further investigation into whether the treatment of hearing impairment can improve the potential negative impact of hearing loss on health and mortality.


Contrera KJ, Betz J, Genther DJ, Lin FR. Association of Hearing Impairment and Mortality in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. JAMA Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. Published online September 24, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamaoto.2015.1762.

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Kevin J. Contrera, MPH (2015). Greater the Hearing Loss, Greater the Risk of Death 

Last Updated on September 25, 2015 by Marie Benz MD FAAD