Coping with the social challenges and emotional distress associated with hearing loss: a qualitative investigation using Leventhal’s self-regulation theory

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Abstract

Objective: To explore the lived experience of social challenges and emotional distress in relation to hearing loss and the coping mechanisms employed to manage them. Design: Two focus groups and two one-on-one semi-structured interviews were conducted during February 2020. Transcripts were first inductively analysed to identify experiential categories of social and emotional difficulty, and then deductively analysed using Leventhal’s self-regulation model to identify how individuals conceptualised these experiences and the coping mechanisms employed to manage them. Study sample: Adults with hearing loss and self-reported emotional distress due to their hearing loss (n = 21) and their significant others (n = 9). Results: Participants described their social and emotional experiences of hearing loss in terms of negative consequences (social overwhelm, fatigue, loss, exclusion), identity impact (how they perceive themselves and are perceived by others), and emotional distress (frustration, grief, anxiety, loneliness, and burdensomeness). While many participants described a general lack of effective coping strategies, others described employing coping strategies including avoidance (helpful and unhelpful), controlling the listening environment, humour, acceptance, assertiveness, communication repair strategies, and accepting support from significant others. Conclusion: Many participants described a lack of effective coping strategies and tended to rely on avoidance of social interaction,deepening their isolation and loneliness.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Audiology
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

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