Mental health problems among 4–17-year-olds with hearing problems: results from a nationally representative study

Kirsten J. Hancock, Christopher G. Brennan-Jones, Rena Vithiatharan, Donald Payne, Kevin Runions, Ashleigh Lin, Robert H. Eikelboom

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: This study aimed to characterize the risk of mental health problems among a representative sample of 6,310 4–17-year-olds, 147 of whom had parent-reported hearing problems. Methods: The study used data from the Young Minds Matter survey. The Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC-IV) assessed prevalence of mood, anxiety and behavioural disorders. The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) assessed social and emotional problems. Logistic regression models were used to estimate odds of having mental health problems adjusting for child factors (speech and language problems, global health, age and gender), family factors (family structure, parent income, education, financial strain and psychological distress) and school-related factors (bullying, school liking, school absence). Results: In unadjusted analyses, children and young people with hearing problems had substantially higher odds of most mental health problems. Hearing problems were not associated with any mental health problem among 4–11-year-olds after adjusting for other child factors. After adjustments for child, family and school-related factors, 12–17-year-olds with a hearing problem remained at greater risk of social phobia and generalized anxiety (DISC-IV), and of peer and emotional problems (SDQ). Conclusions: Clinicians caring for children and young people with hearing problems should be alert for heightened risk of specific mental health problems based on age and the nature of hearing problems. Understanding a wider range of correlates associated with the higher prevalence of mental health problems may allow health professionals to be more informed about the nature of mental health problems that are comorbid to hearing problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-155
Number of pages11
JournalHearing, Balance and Communication
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2017


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