Prevalence of Hearing Problems among Canadian Armed Forces Veterans: Life After Service Studies


This study examines the topic of hearing problems among the Canadian Armed Forces Veterans.


Introduction: Although hearing impairment is a known hazard of military service, there is limited prevalence data for Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) Veterans. Using two self-report methods in the 2010 and 2013 Life After Service Studies (LASS), this study compared hearing problem prevalence in Veterans and in the general Canadian population. Methods: Self-reported hearing problems were measured in Regular Force Veterans using a question adapted from the Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS) in LASS 2010 and the Health Utilities Index Mark 3 (HUI3) in LASS 2013. Prevalence was compared to the general population using the 2013 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and to Veterans Affairs Canada audiometry-based disability benefits assessment for service-related hearing loss and tinnitus. Results: Hearing problem prevalence was 27.8% (26.3-29.4%) using the adapted PALS question in 2010 and 8.5% (7.4%-9.8%) using the HUI3 module in 2013. The prevalence of hearing problems in the general population using HUI3 after adjusting CCHS data for age and sex to match the Veterans was 2.0% (1.8-2.2%). Hearing problem prevalence in those aged 20-49 was higher in Veterans using PALS (21.1%, 19.4-23.0%) and HUI3 (4.7%, 3.6-6.3%) than in the general Canadian population (1.0%, 0.7-1.3%). Discussion: Self-reported hearing problems are more prevalent in CAF Veterans than the general population, prevalence varies considerably with the measurement instrument used. Veterans who did not have disability benefits for ear diagnoses reported hearing problems. Implications are discussed for services and research aimed at the prevention, mitigation, and measurement of hearing loss in this at-risk population.

Full Reference

Prevalence of hearing problems among Canadian Armed Forces Veterans: Life After Service Studies. James M. Thompson, Linda VanTil, Katya Feder, Jill Sweet, Margaret Boswall, Cyd Courchesne, Gregory A. Banta, Pierre Lamontagne, Laura Bogaert, Kristofer McKinnon, and Alain Poirier. Journal of Military, Veteran and Family Health 2016 2:2, 62-72