Background: Hearing impairment is the most frequent sensory deficit in humans, affecting more than 360 million people worldwide. In fact, hearing impairment is not merely a health problem, but it also has a great impact on the educational performance, economic income, and quality of life. Hearing impairment is therefore an important social concern. Objective: We aimed to evaluate and compare the accuracy of self-perception, Hearing Handicap Inventory for the Elderly-Screening (HHIE-S) questionnaire, free-field voice test, and smartphone-based audiometry as tests for screening moderate hearing impairment in older adults in China. Methods: In this study, 41 patients were recruited through a single otology practice. All patients were older than 65 years. Patients with otorrhea and cognitive impairment were excluded. Moderate hearing impairment was defined as mean hearing thresholds at 500, 1000, 2000, and 4000 Hz >40 dB hearing loss (pure-tone average > 40 dB hearing loss). All patients completed 5 hearing tests, namely, the self-perception test, HHIE-S questionnaire test, free-field voice test, smartphone-based audiometry test, and standard pure-tone audiometry by the same audiologist. We compared the results of these tests to the standard audiogram in the better-hearing ear. Results: The sensitivity and the specificity of the self-perception test were 0.58 (95% CI 0.29-0.84) and 0.34 (95% CI 0.19-0.54), respectively. The sensitivity and the specificity of the HHIE-S questionnaire test were 0.67 (95% CI 0.35-0.89) and 0.31 (95% CI 0.316-0.51), respectively. The sensitivity and the specificity of the free-field voice test were 0.83 (95% CI 0.51-0.97) and 0.41 (95% CI 0.24-0.61), respectively. The sensitivity and the specificity of the smartphone-based audiometry test were 0.92 (95% CI 0.60-0.99) and 0.76 (95% CI 0.56-0.89), respectively. Smartphone-based audiometry correctly diagnosed the presence of hearing loss with high sensitivity and high specificity. Conclusions: Smartphone-based audiometry may be a dependable screening test to rule out moderate hearing impairment in the older population.
ASJC Scopus subject areas