Codes and Frequencies
For sample adults whose hearing is not excellent and who indicated their hearing was worse in one ear than the other (2007 and 2008), those who are not deaf but have a little or a lot of trouble hearing (1999), and those who are deaf in one or both ears, or have other trouble hearing or use a hearing aid (1971, 1977, 1990-1991), this variable indicates the quality or functional level of hearing in the left ear.
Respondents could answer according to categories of "excellent" (2007 forward), "good," "a little trouble hearing," "moderate trouble"(2007 forward), "a lot of trouble," or "deaf."
Other hearing related variables are included in the survey.
- Quality of hearing (HEARING, 1997-2009)
- Referred to an audiologist or "hearing aid dispenser", past 5 years (HRAUD, 2007 only)
- Referred to hearing specialist, past 5 years (HRSPEC, 2007 only)
- Cause of hearing loss (HRCAUSE1,2007, 2003)
- Frustrated with hearing loss (HRFRUST, 2007 )
- Frequency hearing causes worry about safety (HRSAFETY, 2007)
- Told of hearing problem by friends or relatives (HRFAM, 2007)
- Age at beginning of adult's hearing loss (HEARDAAGE, 1999, 2002, 2007)
- Can hear and understand someone who whispers from across a quiet room (HRWHISP 1971, 1977, 1990-1991, 1999, 2007)
- Can hear and understand someone who shouts from across a quiet room (HRSHOUT 1971, 1977, 1990-1991, 1999, 2007)
- Can hear and understand if someone speaks loudly in the "better ear" from across a quiet room (HRSPEAK, 1971, 1977, 1990-1991, 1999, 2007)
- Can hear and understand if someone talks in a normal voice from across a room (HRSPEAK, 1971, 1977, 1990-1991, 1999, 2007)
- Trouble with hearing in presence of background noise (HRBACK, 2007 only)
HRLEFT is not completely comparable over time. Apart from changes in the universe, substantial changes in the question wording occurred, where in the 2007 and 2008 surveys did not include the text, "without a hearing aid" in the question.
The presence of proxy reporting in 1971, 1977, 1990-1991 but not in the 1999, 2007 or 2008 surveys also somewhat reduce comparability. In the earlier years, a respondent representing the family could answer this question for other adult family members. From 1999 forward, except in rare cases where disability precluded self-reporting, sample adults themselves answered the question. Because self-reporting is likely to be more accurate than proxy reporting, researchers should exercise caution when comparing results between the earlier years and 1999 forward.
Further, as indicated above, changes in response categories reduce comparison over time. Starting in 2007, response categories of "excellent" and "moderate" were added to the survey. The IPUMS NHIS provides a composite recoding that combines excellent or good (IHIS code 10) while also allowing researchers to select excellent (11) or good (12). Similarly, little or moderate are combined into one category (IHIS recode "20") while little (21) and moderate (22) are also available.
A change in the question format also occurred between the 1971, 1977, 1990 surveys and 1991 forward. Respondents were handed a card with the responses, whereas in later years, the response categories were read to them by the interviewer. This should not substantively affect responses.
- 1971 1977: Persons who are deaf in one or both ears or have other trouble hearing with one or both ears or use a hearing aid.
- 1990-1991: Persons who are now deaf in one or both ears, or now have other trouble hearing with one or both ears, or now use a hearing aid.
- 1999: Sample adults age 18+ who are not deaf but have a little or a lot of trouble hearing.
- 2007-2008: Sample adults age 18+ who have other than excellent hearing or whose hearing status is unknown AND whose hearing is worse in one ear than the other.
- 1971, 1977, 1990-1991, 1999, 2007-2008