Self-Reported Hearing Handicap and Mental Health in Australia: Some Preliminary Findings
Ng, Swee Guan
Bond, Malcolm James
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It has long been suggested that the consequences of adult hearing impairment (HI) include stress, anxiety and depression, yet relatively little formal assessment of mental health status amongst adult Australians who have acquired HI has been reported. This questionnaire- based study investigated the self-reported hearing handicap and mental health characteristics of a sample of 375 Australian adults with HI who were members of Better Hearing Australia (BHA) in six Australian states/territories. Participants completed two mental health questionnaires; the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale-10 (K-10; Kessler, Andrews, Colpe, & Hiripi, 2002) and the Depression- Anxiety-Stress Scale (DASS; Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995) as well as the short version of the Hearing Handicap Inventory for Adults — Screening Version (HHIA-S; Newman, Weinstein, Jacobson, & Hug, 1990). No difference was found in the prevalence of psychological distress amongst participants compared to that of the Australian adult population. It was noted, however, that increased severity of self-reported hearing handicap was associated with higher levels of self-perceived psychological distress. In turn, high or very high levels of psychological distress measured on the K-10 were correlated with depressive states more than with stress or anxiety ratings on the DASS. The results highlighted the need to incorporate a combination of questionnaire-based measures in evaluating self-reported mental health and hearing handicap.