The role of hope in adjustment to acquired hearing loss : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Health Science, Massey University, Palmerston North, Aotearoa/New Zealand
This study investigates the extent and nature of the relationship between individual and disability characteristics (age, sex, degree of hearing loss, age at onset of hearing loss, time since onset of hearing loss, use of technology, and use of services), and adjustment to acquired hearing loss, and the role hope has in that relationship. A sample of 114 adults with hearing loss who had accessed hearing therapy services participated in the study. It was hypothesised that hope would interact with the individual and disability characteristics and therefore function as a moderating variable. The second hypothesis was that hope may be related to individual and disability characteristics as well as adjustment but actually provides the only significant pathway to adjustment; more simply, hope may be a mediator of adjustment. The results indicate that the degree of loss was the only statistically significant individual and disability characteristic related to adjustment. The trait of hope did not produce an interaction effect of statistical significance in the moderation model. However, the study does provide support for the hypothesis that the trait of hope serves is a mechanism by which the degree of loss affects adjustment. Hearing loss affects hope which in turn affects adjustment. In other words, hope was found to act as a mediating variable. The extent of this mediating role was substantial as hope was found to account for 45% of the relationship between the degree of loss and adjustment. Additionally, the study found that self-efficacy and personal meaning may influence hope and despair dimensions in different ways. The perception of one's ability to influence events is a major contributor to hopefulness while the construction of meaning appears to be related to lower levels of despair. Current research in the area of positive psychology indicates that individual traits are modifiable and therefore hope finding, hope bonding, hope enhancement, and hope reminding can instil and increase hope. The implication of these findings is that hearing rehabilitation programmes need to consider the role of hope in intervention strategies. The study suggests possibilities for future research including the investigation of more complex mediational chains, refining individual and disability variables, and assessing the effect of hope-focussed intervention strategies.