Effects of hearing impairment and hearing aid use on the incidence of cognitive impairment among community-dwelling older adults: evidence from the Taiwan Longitudinal Study on Aging (TLSA)
Background Previous studies have reported associations between hearing impairment (HI) and cognitive impairment, but the evidence is not conclusive while considering concurrent geriatric syndromes. Especially, evidence from previous studies rarely came from Asian studies. This study aimed to evaluate the independent effects of HI and hearing aid use on the incidence of cognitive impairment while considering most geriatric confounders. Methods This population-based, propensity-score matched
... -score matched cohort study used cohort from Waves IV–VII (1999–2011) survey of the Taiwan Longitudinal Study on Aging (TLSA). Cognitive impairment was identified based on Short Portable Mental Status Questionnaire (SPMSQ) scores. The hazard ratio (HR) was calculated using the Cox proportional hazard regression adjusting for age, sex, comorbidities, socioeconomic status, Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression (CES-D) scores, the instrumental activities of daily living scale, mobility condition and quality of life. In addition, social support and participation were also considered as confounders in the analysis. To assess the robustness of our findings, we conducted a sensitivity analysis designed to access unmeasured confounding factors by calculating E-values. Results After 1:1 propensity-score matching, we included 709 participants in both the HI and non-HI groups with a mean age of 73.4 years and 39.4% of participants were female. The mean follow-up was 8.9 ± 3.9 years. The HI group had a higher incidence of cognitive impairment than the non-HI group (74.5% vs. 69.1%, respectively), with an adjusted HR of 1.16 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03–1.32) based on a 12-year follow up. The E-value was 1.45 for the estimate, which provided evidence for this study's robustness. Although, a subgroup analysis showed that hearing aid use was associated with lower incidences of cognitive impairment (66.3% vs. 75.6%) when compared to non-users in the HI group, the adjusted HR of 0.82 (95% CI, 0.61–1.09) revealed no significant differences. Conclusions HI was an independent risk factor of incident cognitive impairment on top of concurrent geriatric syndromes. Early HI detection may thus be effective for preventing cognitive decline. Further studies are needed to evaluate the effect of hearing aid use on the prevention of cognitive decline.