Impact of Hearing Aid Use on Falls and Falls-Related Injury: Results From the Health and Retirement Study.



Falls are considered a significant public health issue and falls risk increases with age. There are many age-related physiologic changes that occur that increase postural instability and the risk for falls (i.e., age-related sensory declines in vision, vestibular, somatosensation, age-related orthopedic changes, and polypharmacy). Hearing loss has been shown to be an independent risk factor for falls. The primary objective of this study was to determine if hearing aid use modified (reduced) the association between self-reported hearing status and falls or falls-related injury. We hypothesized that hearing aid use would reduce the impact of hearing loss on the odds of falling and falls-related injury. If hearing aid users have reduced odds of falling compared with nonhearing aid users, then that would have an important implications for falls prevention healthcare.


Data were drawn from the 2004-2016 surveys of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). A generalized estimating equation approach was used to fit logistic regression models to determine whether or not hearing aid use modifies the odds of falling and falls injury associated with self-reported hearing status.


A total of 17,923 individuals were grouped based on a self-reported history of falls. Self-reported hearing status was significantly associated with odds of falling and with falls-related injury when controlling for demographic factors and important health characteristics. Hearing aid use was included as an interaction in the fully-adjusted models and the results showed that there was no difference in the association between hearing aid users and nonusers for either falls or falls-related injury.


The results of the present study show that when examining self-reported hearing status in a longitudinal sample, hearing aid use does not impact the association between self-reported hearing status and the odds of falls or falls-related injury.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Riska, Kristal M, Sarah B Peskoe, Maragatha Kuchibhatla, Alexander Gordee, Juliessa M Pavon, Se Eun Kim, Jessica S West, Sherri L Smith, et al. (2022). Impact of Hearing Aid Use on Falls and Falls-Related Injury: Results From the Health and Retirement Study. Ear and hearing, 43(2). pp. 487–494. 10.1097/aud.0000000000001111 Retrieved from

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Kristal Mills Riska

Assistant Professor of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences

My research program’s overarching goals are to improve the diagnosis and management of dizziness, falls, and vestibular disorders. Her research focuses in three strategic areas: 1) improving the identification of Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo in primary care settings to enable timely access to cost-effective treatment, 2) characterizing the role of vestibular function and rehabilitative strategies in post-concussive/mild traumatic brain injury related dizziness; and 3) identifying and understanding the mechanisms that mediate the association between falls and hearing loss in an effort to develop interventions that will modify falls risk in the hearing impaired population.


Maragatha Kuchibhatla

Professor of Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Statistical research methodology, analysis of repeated measurements, latent growth curve models, latent class growth models, classification and regression trees,
designing clinical trials, designing clinical trials in psychiatry -- both treatment and non-treatment
trials in various comorbid populations.


Alexander Gordee

Biostatistician II

Juliessa Pavon

Associate Professor of Medicine

Jessica Sayles West

Medical Instructor in the Department of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences

Jessica is a medical sociologist who specializes in research on hearing loss, aging, and health disparities over the life course. Jessica’s work has described the “spillover” effects of hearing loss on health outcomes for both individuals and those close to them, as well as sociodemographic disparities in the onset of and life expectancy with hearing loss. Her research, which leverages both population-level data and electronic health record data, has appeared in the Journals of Gerontology, Social Science & Medicine, Ear and Hearing, and other leading journals in medical sociology, hearing, and aging research.

Jessica received a B.A. from the University of Michigan in Social Anthropology (dual Sociology/Anthropology concentration) followed by an M.P.H. in Sociomedical Sciences with a certificate in Public Health Research Methods from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She subsequently received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology with a focus in Medical Sociology and Demography at Duke University. She then completed an NIA T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Duke University Aging Center under the mentorship of Matthew E. Dupre, Ph.D. (Population Health Sciences) and Sherri L. Smith, Au.D., Ph.D. (Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences).


Sherri L Smith

Associate Professor of Head and Neck Surgery & Communication Sciences

Dr. Smith's core research focuses on improving the assessment and treatment of hearing loss in older adults. Specifically, her work centers on comparing the effectiveness of current hearing interventions, developing new, innovative clinical tools, and examining alternative service-delivery approaches that help patients reach their individual hearing goals and improve their quality of life.

Dr. Smith also collaborates with multi-disciplinary teams to better understand the impact of hearing loss on other health conditions and services. Current projects involve understanding the impact of hearing loss on surgical outcomes in older adults, determining the mechanisms that may explain the independent association between hearing loss and falls in older adults, and comparing different models of hearing screenings for older adults in primary care settings.

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