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The impact of age and psychosocial factors on cognitive and auditory outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>22/05/2023
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Purpose: In March 2020, the UK government announced that people should isolate to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Outside a pandemic, psychosocial factors, such as socialisation and mental health, may impact the relationship between hearing loss and increased dementia risk. We aim to report the impact of psychosocial factors, including social isolation, depression, and engagement in activities, on hearing and cognitive function in younger and older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. Method: An online survey and experiment assessed self-reported psychosocial factors, self-reported hearing ability and speech-in-noise perception, and cognition. Data were collected between June 2020 and February 2021. Older (N = 112, MAGE = 70.08) and younger (N = 121, MAGE = 20.52) monolingual speakers of English, without any language or neurological disorders participated. Multiple linear regression models were employed to investigate hypothesised associations between psychosocial factors, and hearing and cognition, in older and younger adults. Results: Multiple regression analyses indicated that older adults displayed poorer speech-in-noise perception and poorer performance on one of four cognitive tasks, compared to younger adults; and increased depression was associated with poorer subjective hearing. Other psychosocial factors did not significantly predict hearing or cognitive function. Conclusions: Data suggest that self-reported hearing and depression are related. This conclusion is important for understanding the associations between hearing loss and cognitive decline in the long-term, as both hearing loss and depression are risk factors for dementia.