• hearing handicap;
  • depression;
  • aged;
  • cohort studies

OBJECTIVES: To examine the association between hearing handicap and depressive symptoms in older community-dwelling Japanese.

DESIGN: Community-based cohort study.

SETTING: Kurabuchi Town, Gunma Prefecture, Japan.

PARTICIPANTS: Five hundred eighty residents (261 men, 319 women) aged 65 and older without depressive symptoms.

MEASUREMENTS: In a baseline examination performed in 2005/06, participants answered the 10-item screening version of the Hearing Handicap Inventory for Elderly (HHIE-S). They were divided into two groups according to their scores: a group with no hearing handicap (HHIE-S scores of ≤8) and a hearing handicap group (HHIE-S scores of ≥10). The Geriatric Depression Scale was used to identify depressive symptoms in face-to-face home visit interviews conducted in 2008, and the association between hearing handicap and depressive symptoms was assessed using logistic regression.

RESULTS: The incidence of depressive symptoms was 19.6% in the group with a hearing handicap and 8.0% in the group without a hearing handicap. When compared with the subjects without hearing handicap, subjects with a hearing handicap had a multiadjusted odds ratio of depressive symptoms of 2.45 (95% confidence interval=1.26–4.77). The association remained significant even when hearing impairment measured with pure-tone audiometry was added to the multiadjusted model.

CONCLUSION: A hearing handicap can predict future depressive symptoms in older community-dwelling people.