Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Human Development and Family Studies


Developmental Science


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Karen McCurdy


According to the World Health Organization, over 900 million people are expected to have disabling hearing loss by 2050. Most studies about hearing loss published thus far have focused on the impacts hearing loss has on adults above the age of 60. However, this study examines the relationship between hearing loss and social-emotional health in adults between the ages of 21 and 50. Literature describing the impact of hearing loss on the social-emotional health of young and middle aged adults is sparse. This study uses data from the 2011 wave of the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) obtained via the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) website. Using individual variables in the study regarding depression, anxiety, exhaustion, and a person’s ability to participate in leisure activities, a social-emotional health scale was created by adding the four individual measures. The newly created social-emotional health scale was reliable (α=0.69). To analyze the relationship between social-emotional health and hearing loss, an independent samples t-test was conducted. The results of the t-test were statistically significant (p < 0.001) and found that hearing loss is associated with poorer social-emotional health. A linear regression was conducted to identify if demographic variables influenced social-emotional health scores. The results of the linear regression found that even after controlling for significant demographic differences between participants with difficulty hearing and those with typical hearing, social-emotional health is still significantly related to participants’ hearing ability (p < 0.001). These results suggest that mental health professionals should be educated about the unique experiences those with hearing loss face.



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