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Quality of hearing without hearing aid

Codes and Frequencies

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For sample adults and sample children, HEARING indicates the quality of the respondent's hearing in categories ranging from excellent (2007 forward) good, a little trouble, moderate trouble (2007 forward), a lot of trouble or deaf. For children, the question specified, "without a hearing aid" whereas in adults, this phrase was not included in the question.

Related Variables

Other hearing related variables are included in the survey.


These include:

Presence, onset and concerns of hearing problem

  • Now has hearing problem (HRPROB)
  • Referred to an audiologist, past 5 years (HRAUD)
  • Referred to a hearing specialist, past 5 years (HRAUD)
  • When last saw doctor about hearing problem (HRPROBMDGYR)
  • Told of hearing problem by friends or relatives (HRFAM)
  • Cause of hearing loss (see HRCBIRTHGR, genetic reason for hearing loss, which lists the 11 possible causes specified for the 1991 survey only)
  • Hearing loss sudden or gradual (HRSUDDEN)
  • Frequency hearing causes worry about safety (HRSAFETY)
  • Age at beginning of adult's hearing loss (HEARDAAGE)
Quality of hearing
  • Hearing is worse in one ear (HRWORSE)
  • Hearing without hearing aid, left ear (HRLEFT )
  • Hearing without hearing aid, right ear (HRRIGHT)

  • Can hear and understand someone who whispers from across a quiet room (HRWHISP)
  • Can hear and understand someone who shouts from across a quiet room (HRSHOUT)
  • Can hear and understand if someone speaks loudly in the "better ear" from across a quiet room (HRSPEAK)
  • Can hear and understand if someone talks in a normal voice from across a room (HRTALK)
  • Trouble with hearing in presence of background noise (HRBACK)
  • Can tell one kind of noise from another (HRTELLNOIS)

Several variables are only available for 1984:

  • Hears most things people say (with hearing aid) (HRMOSTSAID

In 2007 hearing problem related variables were part of Sample Adult Hearing Supplement, (sponsored by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), which is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The hearing supplement questions were included to address the Healthy People 2010 program initiatives. Questions included:

  • Hearing loss related to noise exposure: see HRISKWRKEV, ever regularly exposed to loud noise on the job
  • Access to hearing services and assistive devices: see HRALDUSE, used assistive-listening device
  • Hearing aid related variables : see HRAEV, ever wore a hearing aid
  • Reasons for not using hearing devices when recommended: see HRAREC, hearing aid ever recommended but never used

Hearing related variables for sample children include:

  • Age at beginning of child's hearing loss (HEARDCAGE)
  • Child's hearing problem began before or after third birthday (HEARDCAGE3)
  • Child's age when hearing problem diagnosed: Time period (HRDIAGCTP)
  • Child's age when hearing problem diagnosed: Number of units (HRDIAGCNO)
  • Trouble with hearing in presence of background noise (HRBACK)

There are also a number of variables specifying alternative health treatments for hearing problems, such as HYPTHEAR, used hypnosis for a hearing problem. These can be found under the Alternative Health tab on the Person heading under "Variables."

In 2015 hearing problem related variables were a part of Family Disability (FDB). Approximately half of families will be asked the set of disability questions.


This variable is somewhat comparable over time. Changes in the response categories for 2007 forward reduce comparability with the earlier years. Starting in 2007, the categories of "excellent" and "moderate" were added to the survey. Also note that because the question specified "without a hearing aid" in the child sample comparability across age groups (adults and children) is reduced. Researchers may also note that proxy reporting by the adult respondent for the child may be less accurate then the self-reported status provided by adult respondents.


  • 1997-2018: Sample adults age 18+ and sample children under age 18.


  • 1997-2018