To determine the association between reported concurrent visual and hearing impairment and risk of mortality.
Design, Setting, and Participants
Annual cross-sectional multistage area probability surveys of the US civilian noninstitutionalized population living at addressed dwellings were conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics, Hyattsville, Md. Mortality linkage with the National Death Index of participants from 1986 to 1994 was performed through 1997. Complete reported visual and hearing impairment data and survival status were available for 116 796 adults aged 18 years and older. A total of 3620 participants reported visual impairment only, 12 330 reported hearing impairment only, and 1461 reported concurrent visual and hearing impairment.
Main Outcome Measure
Risk of mortality.
Mortality linkage identified 8949 deaths with an average follow-up of 7.0 years. After controlling for survey design, age, marital status, educational level, self-rated health, and number of nonocular and nonauditory conditions, white participants and “other-race” participants, but not African American participants, reporting concurrent visual and hearing impairment had significantly increased risk of mortality in comparison with their counterparts reporting no impairment (white participants: hazard ratio [HR] = 1.23, 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04-1.46 for men and HR = 1.63, 95% CI, 1.37-1.93 for women; African American participants: HR = 1.50, 95% CI, 0.94-2.40 for men and HR = 0.92, 95% CI, 0.51-1.63 for women; participants of other races: HR = 2.47, 95% CI, 1.33-4.57 for men and HR = 2.23, 95% CI, 1.01-4.90 for women). Risk of mortality was generally greater for participants reporting concurrent impairment as compared with that for participants reporting either visual impairment alone or hearing impairment alone.
In the United States, white persons and those of other races, but not African American persons, reporting concurrent visual and hearing impairment have an increased risk of mortality. Reported concurrent impairment is an independent predictor of mortality among white persons and those of other races for both men and women.