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Predictors of Listening-Related Fatigue in Adolescents With Hearing Loss.

PURPOSE: Self-reported listening-related fatigue in adolescents with hearing loss (HL) was investigated. Specifically, the extent to which listening-related fatigue is associated with school accommodations, audiologic characteristics, and listening breaks was examined.

METHOD: Participants were 144 adolescents with HL ages 12-19 years. Data were collected online via Qualtrics. The Vanderbilt Fatigue Scale-Child was used to measure listening-related fatigue. Participants also reported on their use of listening breaks and school accommodations, including an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 plan, remote microphone systems, closed captioning, preferential seating, sign language interpreters, live transcriptions, and notetakers.

RESULTS: After controlling for age, HL laterality, and self-perceived listening difficulty, adolescents with an IEP or a 504 plan reported lower listening-related fatigue compared to adolescents without an IEP or a 504 plan. Adolescents who more frequently used remote microphone systems or notetakers reported higher listening-related fatigue compared to adolescents who used these accommodations less frequently, whereas increased use of a sign language interpreter was associated with decreased listening-related fatigue. Among adolescents with unilateral HL, higher age was associated with lower listening-related fatigue; no effect of age was found among adolescents with bilateral HL. Listening-related fatigue did not differ based on hearing device configuration.

CONCLUSIONS: Adolescents with HL should be considered at risk for listening-related fatigue regardless of the type of hearing devices used or the degree of HL. The individualized support provided by an IEP a or 504 plan may help alleviate listening-related fatigue, especially by empowering adolescents with HL to be self-advocates in terms of their listening needs and accommodations in school. Additional research is needed to better understand the role of specific school accommodations and listening breaks in addressing listening-related fatigue.

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