Influence of Mild Hearing Loss on Sustained Auditory Attention in the Elderly
Introduction: Attention is an important skill to block environmental noise competitive to the interest stimulus of the subject, mainly for the elderly, who may present a higher difficulty in consequence of hearing losses due to aging. The Sustained Auditory Attention Ability Test (SAAAT) is a method used to evaluate the auditory attention by evaluating the subject's ability to listen to auditory stimuli over a prolonged period, and respond to specific stimulus.
Objective: To verify the influence of mild hearing loss in the performance of the SAAAT, in the elderly.
Methods: Ethical approval: process #34/2011. In the study there was a participation of 60 elderly (GI: 30 elderly with bilaterally normal hearing; GII: 30 elderly diagnosed with mild hearing loss—sensorineural and bilateral), aged over 60, of both genders, and without complaint of inattention. The assessment consisted of applying Attention Questionnaire, pure tone audiometry, speech audiometry, immittance, and SAAAT. The test performance is verified by the total error score (the result of a sum of inattention errors and impulsivity) and the vigilance decrement.
Results: The averages for the total error score were as follows: GI: 6.2 (1.9 inattention/4.3 impulsivity) and GII: 9.2 (3.6 inattention/5.6 impulsivity). In vigilance decrement, the average was 0.5, 0.8 for groups GI and GII. There was a statistically significant difference (p ≤ 0.05) between GI and GII, the variables total score of errors and inattention.
Conclusion: It was verified that the mild hearing loss negatively affected the performance of the elderly in SAAAT (supported by Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de São Paulo [Foundation for Research Support of the State of São Paulo] [FAPESP]).