The impact of age and psychosocial factors on cognitive and auditory outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic

Kate Slade, Robert Davies, Charlotte R. Pennington, Christopher J. Plack, Helen E. Nuttall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


PURPOSE: In March 2020, the U.K. government announced that people should isolate to reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. Outside a pandemic, psychosocial factors, such as socialization and mental health, may impact the relationship between hearing loss and increased dementia risk. We aim to report the impact of psychosocial factors, including social isolation, depression, and engagement in activities, on hearing and cognitive function in younger and older adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. METHOD: An online survey and experiment assessed self-reported psychosocial factors, self-reported hearing ability and speech-in-noise perception, and cognition. Data were collected between June 2020 and February 2021. Older (n = 112, Mage = 70.08) and younger (n = 121, Mage = 20.52) monolingual speakers of English, without any language or neurological disorders participated. Multiple linear regression models were employed to investigate hypothesized associations between psychosocial factors, and hearing and cognition, in older and younger adults. RESULTS: Multiple regression analyses indicated that older adults displayed poorer speech-in-noise perception and poorer performance on one of four cognitive tasks, compared with younger adults; increased depression was associated with poorer subjective hearing. Other psychosocial factors did not significantly predict hearing or cognitive function. CONCLUSIONS: Data suggest that self-reported hearing and depression are related. This conclusion is important for understanding the associations between hearing loss and cognitive decline in the long term, as both hearing loss and depression are risk factors for dementia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3689-3695
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research
Issue number9
Early online date28 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2023 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. This accepted manuscript version is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution CC BY License []. The version of record has been published in the Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research at:

Funding: The research was supported by funding from the Bio-technology and Biological Sciences Research Council of UK Research and Innovation awarded to Helen E. Nuttall.


  • Adult
  • Aged
  • COVID-19/epidemiology
  • Cognition
  • Deafness
  • Dementia
  • Hearing
  • Humans
  • Pandemics
  • Young Adult


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