BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Increases in older aged populations and exposure to complicated noise environments have increased the number of hearing-impaired patients, creating greater demands for hearing aids. We have assessed the reasons that individuals rejected wearing and returned properly prescribed hearing aids, as well as differences in individual factors between younger and elderly adults. SUBJECTS AND METHODS: Of 1138 patients for whom hearing aids were prescribed at Kyung Hee University Medical Center Hearing Aid Clinic, 81 (6.14%) returned their hearing aids, including 36 patients aged <65 years and 45 aged > or =65 years. Patient-related, hearing-related, and hearing aid-related factors were assessed by retrospective chart analysis and phone survey and compared in the two groups. RESULTS: The primary symptoms reported by the 81 patients who returned their hearing aids were hearing disturbance, ringing, and fullness in the ear, in that order and in both groups. The rate of hearing aid return was similar in elderly females and males (p=0.288). The spondee recognition threshold was significantly higher in younger than in elderly adults (63.3+/-14.0 dB vs. 55.6+/-14.74 dB, p=0.019), but the hearing aid return rate was highest in patients with moderate hearing loss in both groups. In evaluating the reasons for return of hearing aids, we found that ineffectiveness of the device was the most frequent reason, accounting for 32.0% of returns, the highest percentage in both groups, with the most frequent patient problem caused by management difficulty in elderly and financial difficulty in younger adults. CONCLUSIONS: The reasons for hearing aid return were different in two groups. Financial considerations were cited more by younger adults, while difficulties in managing hearing aids were cited more frequently by elderly adults. Patients in both groups, however, reported that the most frequent reasons for return were inadequate hearing improvement and inconvenience wearing the hearing aid due to noise amplification.