To identify predictors of the 5-year uptake of hearing aids (HAs) and hearing assistive technology (HAT) in a sample of Dutch employees eligible for HAs and/or HAT. The potential predictors included demographic factors (age, sex, marital status, and living situation), education, hearing factors (ability to recognize speech in noise and self-reported hearing disability), distress, self-efficacy, and work-related factors (job demand, job control, and need for recovery).
Five-year follow-up data of the Netherlands Longitudinal Study on Hearing (NL-SH) collected until January 2019 were included. An online digit-triplet in noise test, the National Hearing Test (NHT), was used to assess speech-recognition-in-noise ability. In addition, online questionnaires on demographic, socioeconomic, self-reported hearing disability, health, and work-related characteristics were administered. Adults who worked over 12 hours per week, who had not yet taken up HAs or HAT, but who would be eligible for HAs/HAT based on their NHT score (insufficient or poor hearing ability), were included in the study. The 5-year uptake of HAs/HAT was defined as a dichotomous variable of self-reported HA/HAT use reported 5 years later. Generalized Estimating Equations analyses were performed to analyze the associations between potential predicting factors and the 5-year uptake of HAs/HAT, taking into account the repeated measurements of the predicting factors and the 5-year uptake of HAs/HAT.
Data of 218 participants were included. The cumulative incidence of the 5-year uptake of HAs/HAT was 15 to 33%, of which 52 employees took up HAs and 11 employees took up HAT. Married participants had increased odds for 5-year uptake of HAs/HAT compared with unmarried participants (odds ratio [OR] = 2.13, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.05 to 4.35). Higher self-reported hearing disability (per one unit, scale range 0 to 74) was associated with increased odds for 5-year uptake of HAs/HAT (OR = 1.05, 95% CI = 1.03 to 1.07). Job demand showed a significant interaction with sex (p = 0.002), and therefore, stratified analyses were performed. In male participants, participants with higher job demand scores (per one unit, scale range 12 to 48) had increased odds for 5-year uptake of HAs/HAT (OR = 1.18, 95% CI = 1.05 to 1.35). No difference was seen in females.
This study confirms that factors predicting the uptake of HAs/HAT in the general or older populations, including marital status and self-reported hearing disability, also extend to the working population. The identification of job demand as a predictor of the uptake of HAs/HAT (in males only) was a novel finding. It demonstrates the importance of considering work-related factors in aural rehabilitation.

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