Understanding the Experience of Age-Related Vestibular Loss in Older Individuals: A Qualitative Study

Aisha Harun, Carol Li, John F.P. Bridges, Yuri Agrawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Background: Inner ear balance (or vestibular) function declines with age and is associated with decreased mobility and an increased risk of falls in older individuals. We sought to understand the lived experience of older adults with vestibular loss in order to improve care in this population. Methods: Qualitative data were derived from semi-structured interviews of individuals aged 65 years or older presenting to the Balance and Falls Prevention Clinic from February 1, 2014 to March 30, 2015 for evaluation of age-related vestibular loss. Transcripts were analyzed using interpretive phenomenological analysis. We created a taxonomy of overarching superordinate themes based on the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF) Framework, and classified key dimensions within each of these themes. Results: Sixteen interviews were conducted with individuals (mean age 76.0 years, 75 % female) with age-related vestibular loss. The three superordinate themes and associated key dimensions were (1) body impairment (including depression, fatigue, fear/anxiety, and problems with concentrating and memory); (2) activity limitation and participation restriction (isolation, needing to stop in the middle of activities, reduced participation relative to expectations, reduced ability to drive or travel, and problems with bending/looking up, standing, and walking); and (3) environmental influences (needing help with daily activities). All participants reported difficulty walking. Conclusions: Older adults report that vestibular loss impacts their body functioning and restricts their participation in activities. The specific key dimensions uncovered by this qualitative study can be used to evaluate care from the patient’s perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)303-309
Number of pages7
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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