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Combined effects of age and hearing impairment on utterances and requests for clarification in spontaneous conversation and a referential communication task
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research Division. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Behavioural Sciences and Learning, Disability Research Division. Linköping University, Faculty of Arts and Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-7311-9959
Linköping University, Department of Biomedical and Clinical Sciences, Division of Sensory Organs and Communication. Linköping University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.
2024 (English)In: International journal of language and communication disorders, ISSN 1368-2822, E-ISSN 1460-6984, Vol. 59, no 1, p. 293-303Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

BackgroundThe impact of hearing impairment is typically studied in terms of its effects on speech perception, yet this fails to account for the interactive nature of communication. Recently, there has been a move towards studying the effects of age-related hearing impairment on interaction, often using referential communication tasks; however, little is known about how interaction in these tasks compares to everyday communication. AimsTo investigate utterances and requests for clarification used in one-to-one conversations between older adults with hearing impairment and younger adults without hearing impairment, and between two younger adults without hearing impairment. Methods & ProceduresA total of 42 participants were recruited to the study and split into 21 pairs, 10 with two younger adults without hearing impairment and 11 with one younger adult without hearing impairment and one older participant with age-related hearing impairment (hard of hearing). Results from three tasks-spontaneous conversation and two trials of a referential communication task-were compared. A total of 5 min of interaction in each of the three tasks was transcribed, and the frequency of requests for clarification, mean length of utterance and total utterances were calculated for individual participants and pairs. Outcomes & ResultsWhen engaging in spontaneous conversation, participants made fewer requests for clarification than in the referential communication, regardless of hearing status/age (p & LE; 0.012). Participants who were hard of hearing made significantly more requests for clarification than their partners without hearing impairment in only the second trial of the referential communication task (U = 25, p = 0.019). Mean length of utterance was longer in spontaneous conversation than in the referential communication task in the pairs without hearing impairment (p & LE; 0.021), but not in the pairs including a person who was hard of hearing. However, participants who were hard of hearing used significantly longer utterances than their partners without hearing impairment in the spontaneous conversation (U = 8, p < 0.001) but not in the referential communication tasks. Conclusions & ImplicationsThe findings suggest that patterns of interaction observed in referential communication tasks differ to those observed in spontaneous conversation. The results also suggest that fatigue may be an important consideration when planning studies of interaction that use multiple conditions of a communication task, particularly when participants are older or hard of hearing. WHAT THIS PAPER ADDSWhat is already known on this subjectAge-related hearing impairment is known to affect communication; however, the majority of studies have focused on its impact on speech perception in controlled conditions. This indicates little about the impact on everyday, interactive, communication. What this study adds to the existing knowledgeWe investigated utterance length and requests for clarification in one-to-one conversations between pairs consisting of one older adult who is hard of hearing and one younger adult without hearing impairment, or two younger adults without hearing impairment. Results from three tasks (two trials of a referential communication task and spontaneous conversation) were compared. The findings demonstrated a significant effect of task type on requests for clarification in both groups. Furthermore, in spontaneous conversation, older adults who were hard of hearing used significantly longer utterances than their partners without hearing impairment. This pattern was not observed in the referential communication task. What are the potential or actual clinical implications of this work?These findings have important implications for generalizing results from controlled communication tasks to more everyday conversation. Specifically, they suggest that the previously observed strategy of monopolizing conversation, possibly as an attempt to control it, may be more frequently used by older adults who are hard of hearing in natural conversation than in a more contrived communication task.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
WILEY , 2024. Vol. 59, no 1, p. 293-303
Keywords [en]
adults; hearing impairment; social interaction; speech
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-197459DOI: 10.1111/1460-6984.12940ISI: 001048799200001PubMedID: 37589337OAI: oai:DiVA.org:liu-197459DiVA, id: diva2:1794552
Available from: 2023-09-06 Created: 2023-09-06 Last updated: 2024-02-05

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Ellis, RachelRönnberg, JerkerPlejert, Charlotta
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