Factors Associated With Anxiety Symptoms in Australian Deaf or Hard of Hearing Children


Abstract Deaf/deaf or hard of hearing (DHH) children are at an increased risk of developing mental health problems, with growing evidence that they may experience greater anxiety symptoms than hearing peers. The present study investigated whether Australian children with varying degrees of hearing loss experienced increased anxiety symptoms compared to hearing children. Furthermore, we examined whether child anxiety symptoms were associated with known risk factors including psychological symptoms of anxiety and depression in parents, age at detection, early intervention and device fitting, type of hearing device, and peer problems. Participants were 65 parents of children with hearing loss aged between 4 and 11~years old (M,=,6.05, SD,=,1.60) seeking treatment for hearing loss at a specialized hearing clinic in Australia. Based on parent reports, we found that the children with hearing loss had fewer anxiety symptoms than their hearing peers (using normative data). Psychological distress of parents was the only factor that uniquely associated with child anxiety. Parents of children with hearing loss were found to experience greater emotional distress compared to parents of hearing children. This suggests parents may require additional support to cope with the social and economic strains associated with childhood hearing loss.

The Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 26(1) 13–20. https://doi.org/10.1093/deafed/enaa035