Relationship between Cognitive Anxiety Level and Client Variables at First Consultation for Adults with Hearing Impairment

by Dianne Charlene Parry

Institution: University of Canterbury
Department: Communication Disorders
Year: 2013
Keywords: Cognitive anxiety; hearing impairment; hearing loss; hearing aid adoption; quality of life; Hearing Handicap Inventory
Record ID: 1313357
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10092/7826


Hearing impairment (HI) is a growing health issue in today’s ageing society. Research has suggested that individuals with HI may experience increased levels of anxiety. Previous research has mainly focused on anxiety as a trait; recent research, however, has looked at state anxiety in the hearing impaired population. Cognitive anxiety is a state anxiety that occurs when people encounter a situation which does not lie within their construct system. As a result, they may experience anxiety as they are unable, or only partially able, to interpret the event meaningfully and are therefore unable to judge the implications of this event. The following study aimed to use the Cognitive Anxiety Scale to investigate relationships between cognitive anxiety and client variables in hearing impaired individuals, adding to the small amount of research currently available in this area. The following research questions were investigated: (1) Is there a relationship between cognitive anxiety level and (a) age, (b) gender, (c) audiometric variables, and (d) quality of life? (2) Is there a significant difference between the level of cognitive anxiety for the participants who purchased and kept hearing aids and those who did not? Twenty-five hearing impaired individuals who were consulting an audiologist for the first time participated in this study, with the cognitive anxiety interview conducted prior to the audiological assessment. The results indicated that cognitive anxiety was significantly related to an ability to understand speech in noise and quality of life, and that hearing aid adopters exhibited greater levels of cognitive anxiety than non-adopters. These results confirm that cognitive anxiety is indeed experienced by adults with HI, and suggest that it may be a factor which motivates people to adopt hearing aids. Further research is needed to confirm and further investigate the relationships with client variables. By listening for signs of cognitive anxiety, an audiologist may be able to gauge if a client is ready for rehabilitation, and encourage the process by exploring the effects of HI on communication situations, employing speech in noise testing, and including the significant other in the process.