Misophonia and Hearing Comorbidities in a Collegiate Population

Caroline R. Brennan, Ragnar R. Lindberg, Gibbeum Kim, Ariana A. Castro, Rafay A. Khan, Howard Berenbaum, Fatima T. Husain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objectives: Misophonia is a little-understood disorder in which certain sounds cause a strong emotional response in those who experience it. People who are affected by misophonia may find that noises like loud chewing, pen clicking, and/or sniffing trigger intense frustration, anger, or discomfort. The relationship of misophonia with other auditory disorders including loudness hyperacusis, tinnitus, and hearing loss is largely underexplored. This project aimed to investigate the prevalence and hearing-health comorbidities of misophonia in a college-aged population by using an online survey. Design: A total of 12,131 undergraduate and graduate students between the ages of 18 and 25 were given the opportunity to answer an in-depth online survey. These students were sampled in a roughly 50 of 50 sex distribution. The survey was created using Qualtrics and included the following components: electronic consent, demographics questionnaire, Misophonia Questionnaire (MQ), Khalfa's Hyperacusis Questionnaire (HQ), Tinnitus and Hearing Survey, and Tinnitus Functional Index (TFI). To be eligible for compensation, answers for each of the above components were required, with the exception of the TFI, which was only presented to students who indicated that they experienced tinnitus. Respondents were determined to have high or possible likelihood of having misophonia if they gave specific answers to the MQ's Emotion and Behavior Scale or the MQ Severity Scale. Results: After excluding duplicate responses and age-related outliers, 1,084 responses were included in the analysis. Just over 20% (n = 217) of the sample was determined to have a high or probable likelihood of having misophonia. The sample was primarily White, female, and of mid-to-high socioeconomic status. There was a strong positive correlation between MQ total scores and HQ total scores. High likelihood misophonia status showed a significant relationship with self-reported hearing loss and tinnitus. No statistically significant relationship was found between misophonia and age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. MQ total scores differed significantly when separating respondents by sex, self-reported tinnitus, and loudness hyperacusis. White respondents had significantly higher MQ total scores than Asian/Asian American respondents. Conclusions: The estimated prevalence of misophonia was about 8% to 20% of the sample, which agrees with most of the currently published research examining misophonia symptoms in collegiate populations. Results of data analysis suggest that misophonia severity may be related to loudness hyperacusis, sex, and possibly tinnitus. Future studies are needed to further examine the characteristics of these relationships, possibly in populations more optimized to reflect the general population or those with hearing-health disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)390-399
Number of pages10
JournalEar and hearing
Volume45
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

Keywords

  • Decreased sound tolerance
  • Hyperacusis
  • Misophonia
  • Survey study
  • Tinnitus
  • Young adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Speech and Hearing
  • Otorhinolaryngology

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