University of Oulu

Venla Lohi, Pasi Ohtonen, Pekka Aikio, Martti Sorri, Elina Mäki-Torkko & Samuli Hannula (2017) Hearing impairment is common among Saami adults in Northern Finland, International Journal of Circumpolar Health, 76:1, 1398004, DOI: 10.1080/22423982.2017.1398004

Hearing impairment is common among Saami adults in Northern Finland

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Author: Lohi, Venla1,2,3; Ohtonen, Pasi4; Aikio, Pekka5;
Organizations: 1PEDEGO Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2Medical Research Center Oulu, University of Oulu and Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
3Department of Otorhinolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, Oulu University Hospital, Oulu, Finland
4Division of Operative Care and Medical Research Center Oulu, Oulu University Hospital and University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
5Thule Institute, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6School of Medical Sciences, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden
7Audiological Research Centre, Örebro University Hospital, Örebro, Sweden
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2017
Publish Date: 2018-01-30


The Saami are the only indigenous population in Europe and their traditional living area is northern Scandinavia. Hearing impairment (HI) among Saami has not been studied before. The objective was to investigate the presence and type of HI among Saami adults, aged 49–77 years (median age 61 years), living in northern Finland. In addition, the presence of self-reported hearing difficulties, difficulties to hear in background noise and tinnitus were studied. An epidemiological, cross-sectional study encompassing a structured interview, otological examination and audiometry was performed. Bilateral HI was present in 42.9% of men and 29.4% of women, when HI was defined as a pure tone average (PTA) of at least 20 dB hearing level (HL) or more at the frequencies of 0.5, 1, 2 and 4 kHz. In one or both ears (worse ear hearing level, WEHL0.5,1,2,4≥20 dB HL) HI was present in 61.8% of men and 42.2% of women. Sensorineural high frequency hearing impairment was found to be most common. Nearly half (46.9%) of the study subjects reported hearing problems and more than half (55.6%) reported difficulties in following conversation in background noise. Measured HI and subjective hearing difficulties are common among the Saami adults. The healthcare personnel working in this area should be aware of the hearing problems of the Saami population.

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Series: International journal of circumpolar health
ISSN: 1239-9736
ISSN-E: 2242-3982
ISSN-L: 1239-9736
Volume: 76
Article number: 1398004
DOI: 10.1080/22423982.2017.1398004
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 3125 Otorhinolaryngology, ophthalmology
Funding: This study was supported by VTR funding of Oulu University Hospital and the European ARHI Project (QLRT-2001-00331).
Copyright information: © 2017 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.