Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Communication and Healthcare Access for Adults with Hearing Loss

Harper L. Wilson, Jacob Crouch, Marissa Schuh, Jennifer Shinn, Matthew L. Bush

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective:Adults with hearing loss are at risk of negative impacts of the pandemic. Specific factors, such as hearing loss severity and location of residence, may disproportionately impact patients during the pandemic. The objective of this study was to assess the relative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hearing loss patients, based on hearing device type and location of residence.Study Design:Prospective cross-sectional questionnaire study.Setting:Tertiary referral center.Patients:Adults with hearing loss.Main Outcome Measures:Data included sociodemographic data, communication challenges, pandemic preparedness, access to healthcare, and mental and emotional health.Results:A total of 614 patients responded (27.8% response rate). Compared with hearing aid users, cochlear implant users reported more difficulty communicating with family/friends (53% versus 41%, p = 0.017), obtaining pandemic information (10% versus 3%, p = 0.002), and understanding live broadcasts (47% versus 17%, p = 0.001) during the pandemic. CI users were less likely than hearing aid users to seek general (52% versus 69%, p = 0.001) and hearing healthcare services (20% versus 34%, p = 0.002). Rural residents reported greater difficulty than urban residents communicating with friends/family (53% versus 39%, p = 0.001), obtaining food/supplies (41% versus 20%, p = 0.004), understanding live broadcasts (31% versus 20%, p = 0.001) during the pandemic. Compared with urban residents, rural residents reported greater difficulty accessing general (57% versus 42%, p = 0.004) and hearing healthcare (49% versus 34%, p = 0.043). Rural residents reported poorer mental/emotional health than urban residents.Conclusions:Among adults with hearing loss, cochlear implant users and rural residents experience greater challenges in communication, pandemic preparedness, and access to healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1156-1164
Number of pages9
JournalOtology and Neurotology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • Adult hearing loss
  • COVID-19
  • Cochlear implants
  • Health disparities
  • Hearing aids
  • Hearing healthcare disparities
  • Rural health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Sensory Systems
  • Clinical Neurology


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