Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Sensory Impairment and Health-Related Quality of Life

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Public Health

Sensory Impairment and Health-Related Quality of Life

Article excerpt


In most countries, the percentage of the elderly as a proportion of the total population is rapidly in-creasing owing to an increasing life expectancy and a decreasing birth rate (1). Accordingly, life expectancy worldwide is expected to increase from 68.7 in 2010 to 75.9 in 2050 (2). In South Korea, the percentage of the elderly above 65 years was 11% in 2010 and is expected to increase to 37.4% by 2050 (3). With the rapid aging of the Korean society, interest in the health and lifestyle of the elderly has increased (4).

The elderly experience physical and psychosocial changes with aging, including vision and hearing impairment (5). Sensory impairment is the most common health problem that the elderly experi-ence and could occur or increase as a result of dis-ease or aging (6-8). According to the Korean Lon-gitudinal Study of Aging (6), 37.3% of the Korean elderly report vision impairment, and 14% report hearing impairment. Addressing sensory impair-ment in the elderly is essential, as it exerts harmful effects on their functional status, independence, and well-being (9). Vision impairment increases the risk of injury, falls, and depression, and limits the performance of activities of daily living (ADL) (10), leading to dissatisfaction with social activities and affecting quality of life (QoL) and independ-ence (5). Hearing impairment is associated with communication difficulties, depression, social iso-lation, and poor self-esteem, leading to serious psychosocial and functional problems (10). Elder-ly with dual sensory impairment face a higher risk of social and relational problems, depression, cog-nitive impairment, and poor health than the elder-ly with single sensory impairment; the percentage of those with dual sensory impairment increases with age (11-13). Moreover, as there is no estab-lished institutional or community program for the early diagnosis and preventative treatment of sen-sory impairment, the socioeconomic burden of the elderly due to sensory impairment is increasing (14, 15).

Previous studies on sensory impairment and HRQoL identified a relationship between vision impairment and HRQoL (16-18) and between hearing impairment and HRQoL (19, 20). How-ever, no study has investigated the relationship between dual sensory impairment and HRQoL. Moreover, few studies have investigated the rela-tionship between sensory impairment and HRQoL using representative samples, with the majority relying on self-reported data (17, 21).

Therefore, this study examined the prevalence of sensory impairment in the elderly and its associa-tion with health-related quality of life (HRQoL) based on specific impairments. To ensure a more representative sample, data from the Fifth Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination sur-vey (KNHANES V) were used.

Materials and Methods

Study design

This study employed a cross-sectional design to identify differences in HRQoL according to the presence and type of sensory impairment in the South Korean elderly aged ≥60 years.

KNHANES and the study population

This study used data collected in the KNHANES V, a cross-sectional and nationally representative study that collected data to assess the state of na-tional health and nutrition from 2010-2012. The survey consisted of a health interview, an exami-nation, and a nutrition survey. The sample was extracted through sampling design to improve the representativeness and estimation accuracy. Moreover, the rolling sampling survey method was used. To ensure consistent and reliable per-formance and reduce bias in the interview and surveys, KNHANES uses a technical investigation team composed of a nurse, nutritionist, and health science major, and the investigation performance ability was verified through regular education and field quality control; this information is available on the KNHANES homepage. There were 8,473, 8,055, and 7,645 KNHANES V participants in 2010, 2011, and 2012, respectively (response rate, 75. …

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