Relationships between Coping Behaviors and Social Loneliness in Adults with Self-reported Hearing Problems

Leontine T.L. Warringa, Celina E. Henke, Marieke Pronk, Sophia E. Kramer, Mariska Stam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: To determine the association between various coping behaviors and social loneliness (self-reported deficits in social integration and embeddedness) in adults with self-reported hearing problems. It is hypothesized that adults who frequently use adequate coping behaviors experience less feelings of social loneliness than persons who use these behaviors less often. Design: Cross-sectional data of 686 participants with hearing-impairment (24-75 years of age) of the online Netherlands Longitudinal Study on Hearing were analyzed. Six coping behaviors were measured using six subscales of the Communication Profile for the Hearing Impaired (maladaptive behavior, verbal strategies, nonverbal strategies, self-acceptance, acceptance of loss, and stress and withdrawal). The De Jong-Gierveld loneliness scale was used to measure social loneliness. Multiple logistic multinomial regression analyses were applied to determine associations between each of the coping behaviors and (1) moderate social loneliness (reference category: No loneliness) and (2) severe social loneliness (reference category: No loneliness). Potential subgroup effects and confounders were examined. Results: Almost two-thirds of the sample reported feeling moderately or severely socially lonely. Significantly less feelings of social loneliness were experienced by participants who reported relatively high levels of self-acceptance or acceptance of loss, relatively infrequent use of maladaptive behavior, or relatively low levels of stress and withdrawal. Particularly those participants whose hearing loss dated back to ≤5 years, better coping with verbal strategies was associated with a lower likelihood of either moderate or severe social loneliness. More frequent use of nonverbal strategies was only associated with a lower likelihood of severe social loneliness for participants with paid work. Conclusions: To the best of our knowledge, this study is the first in which the relationship between a wide range of hearing coping behaviors and social loneliness was studied. The results show that more frequent use of adequate coping behaviors is significantly associated with less feelings of social loneliness. The findings underline the importance of recognizing and tackling inadequate coping behaviors so that social loneliness can be prevented or combated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1040-1050
Number of pages11
JournalEar and Hearing
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2020

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