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The development of life satisfaction and current subjective wellbeing between childhood and adolescence in subjects with hearing impairments

Background and aims

How do people with impaired hearing feel about everyday life? Similar to those who can hear? Are they just as stressed or just as relaxed in the same situations?

Communication without barriers, and with it participation, is crucial to the quality of life of people with impaired hearing. Constraints on participation diminish life satisfaction and hence mental health (depending on biopsychosocial model, ICF, see Deutsches Institut für Medizinische Dokumentation und Information DIMDI, 2005). Because of the consequences for communicative, cognitive and socio-emotional development (Hintermair & Marschark, 2008), hearing impairment is a risk factor for participation.

There is currently growing interest in findings about the subjective life satisfaction of people with impaired hearing who have attended integrated schools (Hintermair, 2010). The aim is to examine whether integration provides the desirable conditions for generating subjective wellbeing. Studies pay little attention, however, to the situational conditions that influence everyday life (obstacles to communication such as ambient noise, too many partners interacting, or a lack of technical aids). Studies to date have tended to show that social and communication problems become more evident as children grow up (in youth and adolescence) (Lönne, 2009; Brunnberg et al., 2008), but without establishing how this correlates with everyday conditions. Moreover, there is currently a lack of data on adolescents and longitudinal studies.

The present project is a sequel to the study on the subjective wellbeing of hearing-impaired children and teenagers in integrated schools and lays the foundations for the world’s first longitudinal study on the psychosocial development of the hearing-impaired to factor in everyday conditions.


The study essentially asks whether and to what extent life satisfaction and current subjective wellbeing differs between 17- to 19-year-olds with and without hearing impairments, and whether life satisfaction has followed a different pattern since childhood for those with hearing impairments.



All hearing-impaired subjects of the first survey are to be contacted again (n=78). These subjects, who have hearing loss in one or both ears, attended integrated schools from the age of 11 to 13 years and received support from hearing therapists, but were not taught sign language. No further disabilities were diagnosed in these children.

The control sample generated for the first survey, consisting of subjects the same age without hearing impairments (classmates of the 78 subjects with hearing impairments), is also being contacted.

Survey method

The survey tools used for the previous projects were applied:

  • Determination of life satisfaction (Kiddo-KINDL, Ravens-Sieberer, 2000), participation experience (CQP-dt, Hintermair & Lepold, 2010), socio-economic data (parents’ education and employment; linguistic and social origins) and details of current housing situation, employment or training situation, hearing status and technical support for those with a hearing impairment.

  • Experience Sampling Method (Hektner et al., 2007): the subjects are given an i-phone for one week, and for seven days they receive a text five times a day with a Web-based questionnaire. The existing tool (positive/negative activation and valence, PANAVA-KS scale, Schallberger, 2005; settings such as volume, social form, activities, date and time) are expanded to include questions about typical age-related activities and one question each on current communication and participation experience.



Project Management

Dr. phil.  Audeoud


Project team

Financial support


Forschung und Entwicklung
Tel: +41 44 317 11 81

zfe[at] zfe