Prevalence of Cognitive Impairment and Its Association With Hearing Loss Among Adults Over 50 Years of Age: Results From a Population-Based Survey in Santiago, Chile

Dorothy Boggs, Sarah Polack, Tess Bright, Natalia Tamblay, Barbara Huidobro, Daniel Tapia-Mora, Katherine Anabalon, Carolina Delgado, Mariela C. Torrente
Jan. 24, 2023
Academic Research Publications


The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of cognitive impairment and explore its association with hearing loss and other sociodemographic and clinical risk factors, using an objective measurement of hearing levels, in adults over 50 years of age.


A population-based survey was completed in Santiago, Chile between December 2019 and March 2020. Participants were screened for cognitive impairment using the Short Chilean Mini-Mental State Examination and hearing levels were assessed with tonal audiometry (hearTest). Data on demographic, socioeconomic, and clinical characteristics were collected.


A total of 538 persons completed the assessment. The prevalence of cognitive impairment in the 50+ population was 9.3% (95% confidence interval [CI] [5.8, 14.7]). Cognitive impairment was significantly higher in individuals with any level of hearing loss (odds ratio [OR] = 2.19, 95% CI [1.00, 4.80], adjusted for age, sex, education, socioeconomic position [SEP], and head trauma). Subjects with hearing loss and who reported any use of hearing aids (16% of the sample) had a lower risk of cognitive impairment (OR of nonusers 3.64, 95% CI [1.00, 13.28], adjusted for age, sex, education, SEP, and head trauma).


Strategies for addressing cognitive impairment should further explore the integration of early diagnosis of hearing loss and the regular use of hearing aids.