An Exploration of the Associations Among Hearing Loss, Physical Health, and Visual Memory in Adults From West Central Alabama Purpose The purpose of this preliminary study was to explore the associations among hearing loss, physical health, and visual memory in adults living in rural areas, urban clusters, and an urban city in west Central Alabama. Method Two hundred ninety-seven adults (182 women, 115 men) from rural areas, ... Research Article
Research Article  |   August 16, 2017
An Exploration of the Associations Among Hearing Loss, Physical Health, and Visual Memory in Adults From West Central Alabama
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Marcia J. Hay-McCutcheon
    Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • Adriana Hyams
    Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • Xin Yang
    Information Systems, Statistics, Management Science, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • Jason Parton
    Information Systems, Statistics, Management Science, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • Brianna Panasiuk
    Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • Sarah Ondocsin
    Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • Mary Margaret James
    Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • Forrest Scogin
    Department of Psychology, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
  • Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure: The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication. ×
  • Correspondence to Marcia J. Hay-McCutcheon: mhaymccu@ua.edu
  • Editor: Frederick (Erick) Gallun
    Editor: Frederick (Erick) Gallun×
  • Associate Editor: Kathleen Cienkowski
    Associate Editor: Kathleen Cienkowski×
Article Information
Hearing / Research Articles
Research Article   |   August 16, 2017
An Exploration of the Associations Among Hearing Loss, Physical Health, and Visual Memory in Adults From West Central Alabama
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2017, Vol. 60, 2346-2359. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-H-16-0369
History: Received September 19, 2016 , Revised January 9, 2017 , Accepted March 13, 2017
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, August 2017, Vol. 60, 2346-2359. doi:10.1044/2017_JSLHR-H-16-0369
History: Received September 19, 2016; Revised January 9, 2017; Accepted March 13, 2017

Purpose The purpose of this preliminary study was to explore the associations among hearing loss, physical health, and visual memory in adults living in rural areas, urban clusters, and an urban city in west Central Alabama.

Method Two hundred ninety-seven adults (182 women, 115 men) from rural areas, urban clusters, and an urban city of west Central Alabama completed a hearing assessment, a physical health questionnaire, a hearing handicap measure, and a visual memory test.

Results A greater number of adults with hearing loss lived in rural areas and urban clusters than in an urban area. In addition, poorer physical health was significantly associated with hearing loss. A greater number of individuals with poor physical health who lived in rural towns and urban clusters had hearing loss compared with the adults with other physical health issues who lived in an urban city. Poorer hearing sensitivity resulted in poorer outcomes on the Emotional and Social subscales of the Hearing Handicap Inventory for Adults. And last, visual memory, a working-memory task, was not associated with hearing loss but was associated with educational level.

Conclusions The outcomes suggest that hearing loss is associated with poor physical and emotional health but not with visual-memory skills. A greater number of adults living in rural areas experienced hearing loss compared with adults living in an urban city, and consequently, further research will be necessary to confirm this relationship and to explore the reasons behind it. Also, further exploration of the relationship between cognition and hearing loss in adults living in rural and urban areas will be needed.

Acknowledgments
We would like to thank the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Alabama for providing funding for this study. Carmen Burkhalter provided invaluable assistance with this project, along with the many undergraduate and graduate students who helped with data collection, including Rachel Croon Naugher, Shayna Groh, Amanda Hanson, Laura Kastli, Amanda Jones, Jasmine McCaskey, Jheri Ogden, Katie Palmer, Katerina Puzinauskas, Kelly Roy, and Katie West. Portions of this study were presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Auditory Society, in Scottsdale, Arizona.
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