In France, one adult out of four is affected by some form of hearing loss

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(Image © Fotolia)

(Image © Fotolia)

Hearing loss is a public health problem affecting billions of people in all countries. However, prevalence data (i.e., schematically, their frequency in the population), as well as data describing the use of hearing aids, remain imprecise. A new study conducted by a research team from Inserm and Université Paris Cité at PARCC (Paris Cardiovascular Research Center, unit Inserm Unit 970) [1] , in collaboration with the AP-HP and the Foch Hospital in Suresnes, shows for the first time that 25% of adults in France are affected by some form of hearing impairment. Disabling hearing loss, which is more severe, affects 4% of adults. This prevalence varies with age and according to other factors (standard of living, noise at work, cardiovascular pathologies...) which are described in the study. In addition, the scientists indicate that hearing aids remain largely under-used, especially among seniors. These results, which are based on data from thousands of participants from the Constances cohort, are published in the JAMA Open Network journal.

Approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide are affected by hearing loss and WHO projections suggest that by 2050 there will be 2.5 billion. This is a major public health issue, especially since hearing loss is associated with a deterioration in quality of life, isolation and social isolation and other health problems such as depression, cognitive decline and dementia.

However, it is still difficult to fully understand the problem and to improve preventive measures and screening, because the available data on the exact prevalence of hearing loss, the characteristics of the individuals concerned and the use of hearing aids are still patchy.of hearing loss, the characteristics of the individuals affected and the use of hearing aids are still patchy.


They are most often derived from studies with small, unrepresentative samples of participants, from which it is complicated to draw generalizations, and from self-reported, unmeasured hearing loss data.

In order to have more robust data to inform public policy, a research team from Inserm, AP-HP, Université Paris Cité and Hôpital Foch assessed the prevalence of hearing loss in France, using data from 186,460 volunteers from the Constances cohort, representative of the general adult population, in whom hearing loss was measured using hearing tests.In order to have more robust data to inform public policy, a research team from Inserm, AP-HP, Université Paris Cité and Foch Hospital have assessed the prevalence of hearing loss in France, using data from 186,460 volunteers from the Constances cohort, representative of the general adult population, in whom hearing loss was measured by means of hearing tests.

[1] Team 4: Integrative Epidemiology of Cardiovascular Disease

The Constances cohort

Constances is a large French epidemiological cohort, consisting of a representative sample of 220,000 adults aged 18 to 75 years at inclusion. Participants are invited to have a health examination every four years and to complete a questionnaire every year. Data from these volunteers are matched annually to the Health Insurance databases. This large cohort is supported by the National Health Insurance Fund and funded by the Future Investment Program.

The data collected concern health, socio-professional characteristics, health care use, biological, physiological, physical and cognitive parameters and allow us to learn more about the determinants of many diseases. constances.fr

The volunteers, aged 18 to 75, completed questionnaires about their demographic and socioeconomic characteristics, their medical history and that of their relatives, and their lifestyles. They also underwent a medical examination, between 2012 and 2019, including a hearing test.

The authors of the study analyzed all of these data and found that 25% of the individuals in the study sample had a hearing impairment. In addition, 4% had a disabling hearing loss(see box below). In addition, this work indicates that the use of hearing aids is low. Only 37% of patients with disabling hearing loss wore a hearing aid.

Hearing loss

  • The term hearing impaired is used to refer to a person who is not able to hear as well as a person with normal hearing, the threshold being 20 decibels (dB) of loss in the better ear.
  • A catastrophic hearing loss refers to a hearing loss greater than 35 decibels (dB) in the better ear.


To further interpret the findings, the researchers then attempted to identify factors associated with hearing loss. Their analyses suggest that older people, men, individuals with a high body mass index (BMI), the presence of diabetes, cardiovascular risk factors, a history of depression or exposure to noise at work had the highest probability of hearing loss.The analyses suggest that older people, men, individuals with a high body mass index (BMI), the presence of diabetes, cardiovascular risk factors, a history of depression, or exposure to noise at work had the highest probability of suffering from hearing loss.

Conversely, having a higher income or education level, living alone, and living in an urban area were associated with lower odds of hearing loss.

Hearing aid use was particularly low among the elderly (who are proportionately more affected by disabling hearing loss), men, smokers, and those with a high BMI.


A better understanding of the prevalence of hearing loss and the profile of those affected is of great interest to better target patients at risk, in order to refine prevention measures, screen them and improve their care.to better target patients who are at risk, in order to refine prevention measures, detect them and improve their management.

This is the first time in France that a study on the prevalence of hearing loss and the use of hearing aids has been conducted on such a large and representative sample of the French adult population. This allows us to draw up a reliable assessment of the situation and to provide public decision-makers with the keys to effective solutions (such as hearing aids or cochlear implants) to deal with this major health problem," emphasize Quentin Lisan and Jean-Philippe Empana, who coordinated the study.

While France has recently adopted a measure allowing for the reimbursement of hearing aids by the Social Security (this was not yet the case at the time this study was conducted), it would be interesting for future research to evaluate the effectiveness of such a device in encouraging the use of hearing aids.It would be interesting for future research to evaluate the effectiveness of such a measure in encouraging the use of hearing aids.

[1] Team 4 Integrative Epidemiology of Cardiovascular Disease


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