Third-Party Disability in Spouses of Older People with Hearing Impairment

Scarinci, Nerina (2009). Third-Party Disability in Spouses of Older People with Hearing Impairment PhD Thesis, School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences, The University of Queensland.

       
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Author Scarinci, Nerina
Thesis Title Third-Party Disability in Spouses of Older People with Hearing Impairment
School, Centre or Institute School of Health & Rehabilitation Sciences
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2009-04
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor Professor Linda Worrall
Professor Louise Hickson
Total pages 248
Total black and white pages 248
Subjects 320000 Medical and Health Sciences
Abstract/Summary Hearing impairment is the most common communication disability in older people. The wide-ranging impact of hearing impairment on communication means that not only does the person with hearing impairment experience the consequences but also his or her frequent communication partners. This thesis investigates the impact of hearing impairment on spouses and uses the World Health Organization’s term “third-party disability.” Third-party disability is defined as the impairments, activity limitations, and participation restrictions experienced by the family due to the health condition of their significant other, and was identified by the World Health Organization as an area for future development and application of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF). Despite a number of studies previously published on the effect of hearing impairment on family members, including younger couples and carers, there remain substantial gaps in knowledge and understanding of the difficulties specifically relating to older people and factors associated with third-party hearing disability. This thesis focuses on the third-party disability experienced by normally hearing spouses (termed the “spouses” in this thesis) of older people with hearing impairment (termed the “partners” in this thesis). To add empirical data to the body of research, this series of studies first explored the lived experience of spouses of older people with hearing impairment in a qualitative study, then identified the ICF domains and categories that described third-party hearing disability, described the extent of third-party hearing disability in this population, modelled the contribution of factors to third-party hearing disability, and developed and psychometrically tested a scale to measure the third-party disability of spouses of older people with hearing impairment. Studies conducted within this thesis were therefore completed in two phases. Ten spouses of older people with hearing impairment participated in the first qualitative phase, consisting of semi-structured in-depth interviews. Results of this study showed that spouses experience a number of effects as a result of their partners’ hearing impairment including: (1) the broad ranging effects of the hearing impairment on the spouses’ everyday lives; (2) the spouses’ need to constantly adapt to their partners’ hearing impairment; (3) the effect of acceptance of the hearing impairment on the spouse; and (4) the impact of ageing and retirement. Findings were then linked to the ICF to identify the most typical and relevant domains and categories of the ICF for spouses of older people with hearing impairment. The majority of themes were able to be linked to the ICF, with most linking to codes in the activities and participation component. A number of contextual factors were also identified that influenced the spouses’ third-party disability. In the second phase, a further 100 older couples affected by hearing impairment participated in a quantitative face-to-face survey to describe the nature and degree of third-party disability in spouses, and to examine factors associated with third-party hearing disability. Concepts identified in the first qualitative study were used to formulate a 36-item tool for measuring spouses’ third-party hearing disability, namely the Significant Other Scale for Hearing Disability (SOS-HEAR). The majority of spouses in this study (98%) reported some degree of third-party hearing disability on at least one item of the SOS-HEAR. Communication difficulties between the couple were the central source of stress reported by spouses, followed by emotional problems in the spouse. Three factors were found to be significantly associated with greater third-party hearing disability: (1) lower relationship satisfaction as described by spouses; (2) a larger spouse-partner age difference; and (3) greater hearing disability in the hearing impaired partner as perceived by the spouse. The scaling properties of the SOS-HEAR were then examined, with a revised 27-item questionnaire found to be a reliable means of measuring older spouses’ third-party hearing disability. Use of the SOS-HEAR is proposed as a means of identifying spouses of older people with hearing impairment in need of intervention. If spouses are identified as experiencing third-party hearing disability, health professionals are then in a position to facilitate discussions with the couple about the impact of the hearing loss on their daily functioning. The inclusion of spouses in rehabilitation takes into account the needs of both members of the couple such that they become partners in rehabilitation. In summary, this research has shown that hearing impairment in older people has an effect on the spouse, as they too experience situations of communication activity limitations and participation restrictions. It is clear that the lives of participants in this study were considerably affected as a result of their partners’ hearing impairment, with spouses reporting a wide variety of stresses involving lifestyle changes, communication difficulties, and emotional consequences. This series of studies has highlighted the potentially important role of family-centred intervention in rehabilitation for older adults with hearing impairment, and strongly suggests the need for increased inclusion of spouses and significant others in the rehabilitation process.
Keyword third-party disability
hearing impairment
ICF
older people
ageing
spouses
significant others
communication
psychosocial factors
Additional Notes The following pages should be printed in landscape: 81,117-118, 123-124, 150-151, 154, 175-177, 186

 
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Created: Wed, 05 Aug 2009, 15:04:58 EST by Mrs Nerina Scarinci on behalf of Library - Information Access Service